MIAMI, FLA.- Pérez Art Museum Miami
is presenting Sun Splashed, the largest exhibition of Nari Wards found object sculptures and groundbreaking installations to date. This mid-career survey, featuring work from the 1990s to today, also showcases lesser-known aspects of his practice such as photography, video, and collage. Taken together, Wards oeuvre speaks with penetrating insight and imagination to a broad range of themes, including African- American history and culture, the dynamics of power and politics, and Caribbean diaspora identity.
Were pleased to mount this important mid-career survey of Nari Wards work as part of our commitment to bringing internationally influential contemporary artists to PAMM. In our local context, its especially interesting to draw out the aspects of Wards practice that reference his native Jamaica, the politics of immigration, and the search for cultural identityissues of particular relevance to the city of Miami, said Diana Nawi, the exhibitions curator and associate curator at PAMM. Sun Splashed is an overdue opportunity for a close consideration of Wards diverse and experimental production that has pushed the boundaries of sculpture.
Emerging alongside a notable group of African-American artists who rose to prominence in the 1990s, Nari Wards massive and tactile approach to art-making has expanded contemporary definitions of installation, assemblage, and site-specificity. His deft use of found objects imbues his work with a visceral relationship to history and the real world, allowing him to challenge viewers perceptions of familiar objects and experiences. Wards innovative approach has earned him numerous prestigious awards, including the Rome Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The catalog for Sun Splashed features crucial scholarship on his singular practice, with essays by Naomi Beckwith, Ralph Lemon, Erica Moiah James, and Philippe Vergne.
Highlights from Nari Ward: Sun Splashed include:
Happy Smilers Duty Free Shopping, 1996An immersive architectural installation that includes a real fire escape, found domestic objects, and an audio track
The Saviour, 1996A 10-foot tall sculpture that transforms a quotidian shopping cart through intricate assemblage
Glory, 2004A trenchant installation centered on a tanning bed made from oil barrels incised with the American flag
Naturalization Drawing Table, 2004An interactive installation based around Wards experiences of becoming a U.S. citizen; when activated, viewers will be able to fill out a facsimile of an INS naturalization form and have it notarized in exchange for an editioned set of drawings the artist made on the same forms
Mango Tourist, 2011A play on a form the artist has returned to in many works, the snowman, these larger than life sculptures transpose these frozen figures into tropical tourists made from foam, electrical detritus, and mango seeds
Homeland Sweet Homeland, 2012A densely textured work that transcribes the rights of citizens when interacting with police officers and prosecutors into a seemingly domestic wall hanging that upon closer inspection contains all manners of collaged found elements including barbed wire
Canned Smiles, 2013Two tin cans, one labeled Jamaican Smiles and one labeled Black Smiles, which reference a seminal 1961 work of conceptual art by Italian artist Piero Manzoni and play with structures and limitations of ideas around national and racial identity
Sun Splashed coincides with a solo show at PAMM for Wards former student, Firelei Báez, her first at a major museum. Báezs exhibition, opened on October 15, features the emerging artists delicate and labor-intensive works on paper exploring issues of black culture, Afro-Caribbean folklore, and the complexities of diasporic experiences. Báezs large-scale works illuminate the excluded historical narratives of women of color, while simultaneously placing her subjects in a futuristic setting where skin tone is no longer a sufficient signifier of race. A native of the Dominican Republic, her work reflects contradictions within the current discourse on race, class, and culture by carefully examining superficial variants that designate femininity, including body shape, hair texture, and clothing. The show highlights new work by Báez and large-sized paintings created specifically for PAMMs Rose Ellen Meyerhoff Greene and Gerald Greene Gallery. The catalogue for the exhibition features contributions by Naima Keith and Roxane Gay.
Báezs new works embody a provocative investigation on decorative elements, textiles, hair designs, and body ornaments that explores methods of resistance in black communities within the United States and the Caribbean. Her exceptional paintings show a profound appreciation of diasporic histories, as well as new contemporary approaches towards painting. said María Elena Ortiz, the exhibitions curator and an assistant curator at PAMM.
Highlights from Firelei Báez: Bloodlines include:
Man Without a Country (aka anthropophagist wading in the Artibonite River), 2014A highly detailed work composed of over 144 small drawings that crafts parallels between obscure episodes of history and contemporary social struggles
Patterns of Resistance, 2015An arresting new series comprising blue and white drawings centered on a textile-pattern created by Báez, using different political references from social movements in the black diaspora in the Unites States and the Caribbean
Bloodlines, 2015A new series of portraits inspired by the tignon, a headdress which free women of color were obligated to use by law in18th century New Orleans