Nari Ward, We the People, 2011. In collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Used and hand dyed shoelaces. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño 

Nari Ward, Glory (video with audio), 2004. Oil barrel, fluorescent & ultraviolet tubes, computer parts, plexiglass, fan, camera casing elements, paint cans, cement, towels and rubber roofing membrane. Dimensions variable.

Artist Nari Ward discusses his use of found objects during a public event at FWM on November 4th, 2011. Nari Ward, King Buoy, 2010. Aluminet shade cloth, reflectors, wood, glass, bell, reflective street name sign. 67 x 32 x 32 inches Nari Ward in the process of making We the People Nari Ward, Glory (still), 2004. Oil barrel, fluorescent & ultraviolet tubes, computer parts, plexiglass, fan, camera casing elements, paint cans, cement, towels and rubber roofing membrane. Dimensions variable.
Nari Ward, We the People, 2011. In collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Used and hand dyed shoelaces. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño
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Nari Ward, Glory (video with audio), 2004. Oil barrel, fluorescent & ultraviolet tubes, computer parts, plexiglass, fan, camera casing elements, paint cans, cement, towels and rubber roofing membrane. Dimensions variable.
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Artist Nari Ward discusses his use of found objects during a public event at FWM on November 4th, 2011.
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Nari Ward, King Buoy, 2010. Aluminet shade cloth, reflectors, wood, glass, bell, reflective street name sign. 67 x 32 x 32 inches
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Nari Ward in the process of making We the People
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Nari Ward, Glory (still), 2004. Oil barrel, fluorescent & ultraviolet tubes, computer parts, plexiglass, fan, camera casing elements, paint cans, cement, towels and rubber roofing membrane. Dimensions variable.
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Nari Ward:

We the People

September 20, 2011–EXTENDED through November 27, 2011

Opening Reception:
Reception and Artist Talk by Nari Ward
Friday, 4 November 2011, 6–8 pm, Artist Talk begins at 6:30 pm.
 


The exhibition We the People highlights recent, prominent installations and sculptural works by Nari Ward, who is a current artist-in-residence at The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM). Nari Ward examines contemporary issues that include citizenship, cultural consumption, discrimination, and poverty, which reflects his experiences and observations growing up in Jamaica and his working life as an artist in Harlem. Composed of material collected from his urban neighborhood and the discards of consumerism, Ward’s art reveals the diverse emotions—from treasured to unwanted—inherent in everyday objects, serving as a link to personal connections and the ambiguity of language. His work helps to develop a viewer’s awareness and understanding of social themes, through wordplay as well as juxtapositions of technology and other found objects.

Nari Ward’s debut of his installation made in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, also named We the People, transcribes the opening phrase of the United States Constitution on the museum wall using hand-dyed shoelaces. These key words “We the People” become powerful clichés, as Ward believes that it is not possible to make these words his because of their strong association to the Constitution. Ward is, however, able to “reclaim” these words by integrating the shoelaces into the text, as a hybrid material, revolutionizing the viewer’s reaction through the magnitude of the arrangement and adaptation of the piece.
 
Nari Ward uses the stars and stripes of the American flag as emblematic elements in Glory (2004) for his oil barrel “tanning bed,” which could theoretically imprint these images on one’s body. The stars and stripes signify the strong support and unified emotions that occurred post-9/11 when a flag waving American people showed their solidarity in their pledge to end terrorism. The oil barrel, with its coffin-like connotations, represents America’s obsession with the Middle East and the oversimplification in the media, implying that one was unpatriotic if he or she were against the war. The stanchions are placed in a non-linear path symbolizing the process of becoming a citizen, during which one always has the fear of being deported. Its ropes are hung with star-patterned towels—displaying variations of the five-pointed star made of tar that is “burned” into the fabric—guiding the viewer to the “tanning bed.” The experience viewing the work becomes less somber and more “real” by Ward’s addition of humor, a parrot speaking English and whistling, taken from playing a CD of “How to Teach a Parrot to Talk.” Ward states, “Glory is not sad, it is not happy; it fluctuates and borders on kitsch.” The material, symbolic, emotional, and historical references in Glory create a broad range of interesting and inventive elements that can be explored and contemplated.


Bio
Born in 1963, St. Andrews, Jamaica
Nari Ward received his BA from Hunter College, New York in 1991—where he currently teaches—and his MFA from Brooklyn College, New York in 1992. Ward has an extensive exhibition history having participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world. Recent solo exhibitions include “Episodes” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2002); “Rites of Way” at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2002); “The Refinery X: A small twist of fate” at the Palazzo delle Papesse-Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena, Italy (2006); “Nari Ward: 2005-2010” at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas (2010); and “LIVESupport” at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York (2010). Recent group exhibitions include Documenta XI, Kassel (2003); the Whitney Biennial, New York (2006); Prospect 1: New Orleans Biennial (2008); “Contemplating the Void: Interventions” in the Guggenheim Museum at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010); “30 Seconds off an Inch” at the Studio Museum Harlem, New York (2010); “Transparancey, Art for Renewable Energy” at MACRO, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome (2010). In April 2011, Nari Ward opened “Nari Ward: Sub Mirage Lignum” at MASS MoCA, and in November 2011 a new exhibition will open in Galleria Continua/ Beijing, China.

Ward has 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 is represented by Lehmann Maupin Gallery, and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano/ Beijing/ Le Moulin. He lives and works in New York.