Nari Ward

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Nari Ward (born 1963 in St. Andrew, Jamaica) is an artist based in New York City. Nari Ward received a BA from Hunter College, CUNY in 1991 and a MFA from Brooklyn College, CUNY in 1992. His work is often composed of found objects from his neighborhood, and "address issues related to consumer culture, poverty, and race".[1] He has a wife and two kids. Noemi Ward his wife, Nira Ward his daughter, and his son Zendon Ward.

Ward was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial in New York and Documenta XI in Kassel (2003), and his works have been exhibited at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. Recent solo exhibitions include Episodes at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, The Refinery X: A small twist of fate at the Palazzo delle Papesse-Centro Arte Contemporanea in Siena, Italy, and Rites of Way at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Ward received commissions from the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the Pollock Krasner Foundation.


Nari Ward has shown in solo and group exhibitions around the globe. In 2011, he had a solo exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art entitled Nari Ward: Sub Mirage Lignum. His installation filled all of the museum's second floor and investigated transformative spaces that straddle the division between leisure and work.[2] In the previous year he exhibited in a solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin Gallery[3] and was part of Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Rotunda curated by Nancy Spector and held at the Guggenheim Museum.[4] Other notable exhibitions include Prospect.1, New Orleans (2009); Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); Documenta XI, Kassel, Germany (2002); a solo exhibition entitled Nari Ward's Rites-of-Way in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; a solo exhibition entitled Episodes at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston (2002); and a solo exhibition entitled The Refinery X: A small twist of fate at the Palazzo delle Papesse-Centro Arte Contemporanea in Siena, Italy (2006).[5]

Nari Ward is the recipient of numerous awards including the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Willard L. Metcalf Award (1998),[6] Pollock Krasner Foundation grant[2] (1996), The National Endowment for the Arts (1994),[7] and the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (1992).[8] He has also participated in the Studio Museum in Harlem's Artist-in-Residence program[2]


Amazing Grace, 1993[edit]

Nari Ward's First exhibition and creative installation, Amazing Grace, at the New Museum (located in the Museum's Annex) is part of a larger multi-level exhibition at the Museum entitled NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash, and No Star. The exhibition is composed mostly of found objects, trash, discarded objects, and other mixed media amalgamations. Ward fits into this exhibition, and the discourse surrounding it perfectly as a New York Based, mixed media artist who typically uses locally found objects to approach issues such as consumer culture, poverty, and race. For this installation Ward collected a myriad of disposed, or otherwise abject children's strollers in Harlem as well as other neighborhoods in Manhattan. There might have been 100–150 strollers involved in the installation, all of which had seem to have aged and dated to match the theme of the exhibition. Ward sets up an oval path through these strollers in a kind of nostalgic lap through these long-forgotten remnants of every American raised individual's childhood. Ward uses fire hoses connected by knots as the path and has a rendition of "Amazing Grace" sung by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson playing on repeat. The bluesy version of this national anthem sets the mood for what can only be described as a nostalgically thought-provoking stroll through strollers.

Mango Tourist, 2011[edit]

Using found objects and materials collected from his urban neighborhood, Nari Ward creates sculptural installations that subvert the original purpose of the items shown. From previous works such as Palace LiquorsouL (2010), Ward rearranges the letters of the title in a neon liquor store sign, illuminating only "S-O-U-L", leaving the remaining letters unlit and upside down. Though there were unexpected compositional arrangements, Ward enacts a transformation of everyday objects into visual markers rich with symbolic and narrative implications.

Breathing Directions[edit]

Nari ward in November 2015 created his most impacting exhibit, Breathing Directions. Breathing Directions was created from a trip Nari had taken recently to a church known as "The First African Baptist Church" located in Savannah, Georgia. The church itself was part of the many stops during the Underground Railroads peak in history. The floorboards of the church show a symbol known as the " BaKongo Cosmogram" this symbol would be made out of large holes to help slaves underneath the church breath safely without being found. Although, no one has found the exact tunnels to the underneath of the floorboards it is a powerful story of African slaves escaping death itself. In Nari's paintings he uses this symbol to communicate what he had felt while being in the church surrounded by ancient artifacts of the 1850's and 60s.


  1. ^ Whitney Biennial
  2. ^ a b c MASS MoCA – Nari Ward: Sub Mirage Lignum
  3. ^ Nari Ward: LIVESupport at Lehmann Maupin
  4. ^ Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum' Archived 5 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Nari Ward". Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  6. ^ Willard L. Metcalf Award Winners Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ The National Endowment for the Arts, Listing of Grants and Financial Report, 1994
  8. ^ Nari Ward – John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ -Come Together: Surviving Sandy. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 May 2017.
  2. ^ -"" Nari Ward: Sun Splashed. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 April 2017.
  3. ^ -"Installation Review: Nari Ward. Amazing Grace. New Museum." Digital Art Source. N.p., 6 February 2013. Web. 28 April 2017.
  4. ^ -"Nari Ward: Bibliography ." Nari Ward. N.p., 3 February 2003. Web. 1 May 2017.
  5. ^ -Sgarone. "Twenty-one Ten." Twentyone Ten. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 April 2017.
  6. ^ -"In Past Show Nari Ward: Sun Splashed,” at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)." Nari Ward | Mango Tourist (2011) | Artsy. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 May 2017