Nari Ward, Amazing Grace, 1993. Installation view: “1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star,” New Museum, New York, 2013. Photo: Jesse Untracht-Oakner
Nari Ward is known for transforming everyday objects, often gathered from the environment around his studio, to produce his site-specific installations. Ward’s selection of objects or materials—baby strollers, fire hoses, baseball bats, cooking trays, bottles, and shopping carts—is rooted in their connections to individual lives and shared stories. “I am excited about an object’s transformation,” says Ward. “What it means, its historical resonance in a contemporary art dialogue, its significance within the community . . . it is a type of alchemy.”
This panel discussion takes its cues from Ward’s use of found objects, as seen in his New Museum survey “We the People.” Featuring an intergenerational group of artists who also deploy found material in their work, the conversation will touch on their uses of found and repurposed objects, clothing, sound, photography, and other materials, and will consider how these materials speak to themes of empathy, identity, and history within African-American contemporary art.