Vickie Pierre still possesses her childhood imagination. “I was really into fantasy at a young age, and I stayed in that state,” she says, recalling playing with dolls growing up in Brooklyn. This has served the multimedia Haitian-American artist well: Sentimental memories fuel her work, which consist of collages and assemblages that explore cultural identities, particularly characterizations of women.
Pierre’s early creations consisted of fantastical paintings in tropical, pastel colors. But around 2016, she began transforming her acrylic pieces into collages using cutouts from gift wrap, wallpaper and magazines. These works are opposite of her paintings in not only method but also her dominant use of the color black, a nod to “Black femininity and the reclamation of Black bodies and my own individuality,” the artist acknowledges. The collaged elements mimic European decorative arts as well as ritualistic jewelry worn by indigenous women, such as nose rings, crowns and necklaces. “It’s about shape, form, beauty, adornment and whimsical playfulness, but it’s also inclusionary,” she observes. “It can represent so many things.”
A dusting of glitter—speaking to gold gilt and its social connotation—is a finishing touch that recalls metallic toys from Pierre’s youth. But her greatest tribute to nostalgia are her assemblages, composed of vintage objects collected from her lifelong affair of thrifting: perfume bottles, wall plaques, figurines. Similar to the tchotchkes that once decorated her house, these make her think about “the passage of time and my childhood home,” she says.
In her Fountainhead Studios workspace, Pierre paints each item a solid color, then uses an industrial glue to affix them to a panel, conceptualizing a proverbial princess on a pedestal. Strands of beads and doll hair physically link the objects and signify interconnectivity between ideas. “I’m investigating what issues of gender, race and age mean to me,” the artist explains. “I want it to look coordinated and beguiling, with a poetic and introspective underlying story.” Text occasionally underscores this point, and work titles are often informed by literature or music.
“These forms are tied to history and my understanding of femininity,” Pierre says of her art. “It makes me feel like I’m contributing to a sense of globalism, respecting and preserving cultures that impact all of us.”