We the People
July 1, 2020 to September 20, 2020
July 1, 2020 to September 20, 2020
Nari Ward: We the People features a selection of sculptures, paintings, videos, and large-scale installations from throughout Ward’s career, highlighting his status as one of the most important and influential sculptors working today.
Since the early 1990s, Ward has produced his works by accumulating staggering amounts of humble materials and repurposing them in consistently surprising ways. His approach evokes a variety of folk traditions and creative acts of recycling from Jamaica, where he was born, as well as the material textures of Harlem, where he has lived and worked for the past twenty-five years. Yet Ward also relies on research into specific histories and sites to uncover connections among geographically and culturally disparate communities and to explore the tension between tradition and transformation.
The exhibition includes several key early works, such as the large-scale environment Amazing Grace (1993), which Ward made and exhibited in an abandoned firehouse. In his more recent work, Ward directly addresses complex political and social realities that resonate on a national level, reflecting the profound changes gentrification has brought to his own neighborhood of Harlem and the increasingly fractured state of democracy in the United States more broadly. He uses language, architecture, and a variety of sculptural forms to reflect on racism and power, migration and national identity, and the layers of historical memory that comprise our sense of community and belonging. Nari Ward: We the People will bring together many of Ward’s most iconic sculptures alongside a number of works rarely seen since they were originally created. The exhibition demonstrates Ward’s status as a key bridge between generations of American sculptors and a vital advocate for art’s capacity to address today’s most urgent issues.
Nari Ward: We the People is organized by the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and is curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator; Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director; and former New Museum Associate Curator Helga Christoffersen. Major support has been provided by The Ed Bradley Family Foundation, Katherine Farley and Jerry Speyer, Erica Gervais and Ted Pappendick, Dakis Joannou, Noel E. D. Kirnon, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Jody and Gerald Lippes, Jennifer McSweeney, The Robert Lehman Foundation, and Vilcek Foundation. Additional support has been provided by Ron and Ann Pizutti, the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Scott C. Mueller, Bernard I. Lumpkin and Carmine D. Boccuzzi, and Joshua and Sara Slocum. Special thanks to Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul; and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Beijin, Les Moullins, and Havana.
Nari Ward: We The People is a critical examination of the work of one of the most significant and original sculptors and installation artists living today. Ward is best known for his large-scale sculptures and installations, many of which are created from unexpected materials collected around his neighborhood. His incisive works frequently comment on issues surrounding race, poverty, consumerism, and diasporic identity in American culture.
This book accompanies a major retrospective at the New Museum, highlighting his work from the early 1990s - including Amazing Grace (1993).
Edited by Gary Carrion-Murayari and Massimiliano Gioni