Contemporary Arts Museum Houston opens the first museum survey in Texas of the work of artist Nari Ward

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston opens the first museum survey in Texas of the work of artist Nari Ward
Nari Ward, Amazing Grace, 1993. Baby strollers, fire hose, and audio component, dimensions variable. Private collection. Installation view at New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, New York, 2019. Photo by Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio.

HOUSTON, TX.- Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents Nari Ward: We the People, the first museum survey in Texas of the work of artist Nari Ward (b. 1963, St. Andrew, Jamaica). The exhibition brings together works spanning Ward’s 25-year career.

Since the early 1990s, Ward has produced sculptures by accumulating staggering amounts of humble materials and repurposing them in surprising ways. His approach draws from a variety of art historical and folk traditions and reflects the textures of Harlem, where he has lived and worked for the past 25 years. Seeking out the personal and social narratives embedded in materials, he conceives of his sculptures as tools for articulating relationships between people. Over the past three decades, he has addressed topics such as historical memory, political and economic disenfranchisement, racism, and democracy in an effort to express both the tenuousness and the resilience of the artist’s Harlem community—a struggle that remains relatable in communities across the United States.

Ward first rose to prominence in the early 1990s after attending art school in New York, New York and participating in The Studio Museum in Harlem’s prestigious residency program. Upon completion of the program, Ward installed Amazing Grace (1993) in the deserted Harlem firehouse that is now his studio. In this installation, recreated at CAMH, viewers walk atop a pathway made of fire hoses nailed to the floor in a dimly lit space. The path is surrounded by rows of discarded baby strollers while “Amazing Grace,” sung by Mahalia Jackson, loops overhead. As with other early works, Ward created Amazing Grace from raw materials scavenged in his neighborhood. Accumulated and transformed, these materials evoke the physical and socioeconomic realities of Harlem in that time. More broadly, the work conveys a sense of presence and absence suggested through its patinas of use and abandonment and its engagement of spiritual content.

Ward’s burgeoning career as an artist also coincided with a proliferation of international group shows in the 1990s, many of which included his work. Owing to its explorations of historical patterns of migration and displacement—particularly those tied to chattel slavery—and the rhetorics of inclusion and exclusion that form this country’s foundation, Ward’s work was poised to address this global expansionism. With the increased policing of national borders today, Ward’s work gains further relevance.

Ward has long probed concepts of identity, displacement, and belonging through his sculpture. He moved to New York from Jamaica as a child, and his work frequently refers to the migratory and diasporic experiences so many United States citizens share. His participatory work Naturalization Drawing Table (2004) offers museum visitors an opportunity to experience a bureaucratic environment that mirrors the potentially intimidating process of applying for citizenship.

We the People (2011) is the namesake work of the exhibition. This familiar phrase is taken from the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which describes the core values the Constitution exists to achieve: effective and democratic governance, justice, freedom, and equality. Ward spells this phrase out in Old English lettering outlined with thousands of multicolored shoelaces. In doing so, he raises a fundamental question: Who is “we”? Multiple answers emerge: “we” may be people fractured by divisive partisan politics, but “we” are also resilient, creative, and democratically engaged. Ward’s work demonstrates how a gathering—whether of people or objects—can be a catalyst for transformation.

Nari Ward: We the People is organized by the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, New York, and is curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator; Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director; and Helga Christoffersen, Associate Curator. The exhibition’s presentation at CAMH is coordinated by Dean Daderko, Curator.

Nari Ward received a BA from City University of New York, Hunter College in 1989, and an MFA from City University of New York, Brooklyn College in 1992. Selected solo exhibitions of his work include at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts (2017); Socrates Sculpture Park, New York, New York (2017); The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2016); Pérez Art Museum, Miami, Florida (2015); Louisiana State University Museum of Art, Baton Rouge (2014); The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2011); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (2011); and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2001, 2000). Selected group exhibitions featuring his work include Objects Like Us, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2018-19); UPTOWN: nastywomen/badhombres, El Museo del Barrio, New York, New York (2017); Black: Color, Material, Concept, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, New York (2015); The Great Mother, the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy (2015); The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois (2015); NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, New York (2013); Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Rotunda, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York (2010); 2006 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York (2006); Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas (2005); Landings, Documenta XI, Kassel, Germany (2002); Passages: Contemporary Art in Transition, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Projects: How to Build and Maintain the Virgin Fertility of Our Soul, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York; 1995 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; and Cardinal Points of the Arts, 45th Venice Biennial, Italy.

Today's News

August 16, 2019

Newly restored Titian's Rape of Europa set to be reunited with accompanying works

Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University presents "After the End: Timing Socialism in Contemporary African Art"

James Economos: A life remembered

Bonhams to offer the collection of Drs. Edmund and Julie Lewis

Record prices and market debuts abound in Summer Sale of Vintage Posters at Swann

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston opens the first museum survey in Texas of the work of artist Nari Ward

Charlotte Jackson Fine Art announces the passing of Paul Sarkisian

Kuwait's largest museum complex has launches its first international visual arts programme in Venice

The Jeu de Paume exhibits fifteen photographic series by Marc Pataut

"Clapping with Stones: Art and Acts of Resistance" opens at the Rubin Museum

DC Landmarks and Civil War era music explored in exhibitions at the George Washington University Museum

Exhibition of batiks celebrates the genesis of Indigenous women's art practice

Only contemporary art centre dedicated to the promotion of Aboriginal art in Europe opens exhibition

The Baltimore Museum of Art presents a multimedia installation by Oletha DeVane

Eden Project unveils 2019 art programme

The Haggerty Museum of Art opens two new exhibitions

The Drawing Center appoints Allison Underwood as Director of Communications

Second Home designed by Selgascano to open its first U.S. creative workspace in Los Angeles

Design to meet architecture at Lake Como Design Fair 2019

The best international motion design for 24 hours at Amsterdam Central Station

The Fundació Joan Miró presents 'Different Trains', a video installation by Beatriz Caravaggio

Major Margaret Olley exhibition opens at Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art

A new exhibition explores another side of Maurice Sendak through his set designs

Kelly Akashi opens an exhibition and artist residency at ARCH's Athens

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful