Nari Ward garnered acclaim early in his career with pieces like Amazing Grace (1993), created from hundreds of discarded baby strollers arranged like the hull of a ship, which he produced while in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The methodologies implemented in this early work can be found throughout his career, with the artist repurposing found objects and placing them in juxtapositions that highlight their functional purposes, cultural associations, and metaphorical potential. Ward lives and works in close proximity to his subject matter: He chooses media sourced from his local surroundings, delicately inserting his own experience in the work. He contributes to socio-political themes, including identity, race, religion, immigration, patriotism, tourism, and consumer culture, by imbuing his work with historic and personal narrative, while intentionally leaving obscured space for open-ended meaning.
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Nari Ward: We the People is on view at the New Museum February 13 – May 26.