OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Celebrated New York artist Nari Ward will open an exhibition Nari Ward • Re-Presence from 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, June 4, in the first-floor galleries of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College. A lecture by Ward begins at 7 p.m. in the M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Auditorium on the second floor of the museum. The exhibition will be on view through Aug 29. The opening reception and lecture are free and open to the public. Additionally, a free concert by The Good Foot, a 1970s soul revue, will take place at 8 p.m. on the museum lawn.
Born in St. Andrews, Jamaica, in 1963, Ward has been included in the 2008 Prospect.1 New Orleans Biennial, 2006 Whitney Biennial in New York and in Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany in 2003. Ward is currently working on a solo exhibition to be presented at Mass MoCA next year.
Known for dramatic sculptures made from discarded materials found in urban neighborhoods, Ward creates works which often comment on issues related to consumer culture, poverty, race and, most recently, support for those with physical and mental illness. Using a sense of irony and irreverence, he suggests a point of view, poses a question or tells a story. Writers have compared him to a modern archeologist who uses salvaged materials — television sets, plastic bags, liquor signs, grocery carts, oil barrels and fake luxury goods — to interpret the history and emotions attached to those “recycled” elements.
Since 2000, Ward has lived and worked in Harlem, collecting the neighborhood’s discarded clothes, ephemera and trash for use in his work. Included in Re-Presence are various signs that Ward has gathered and repurposed. A Chase Bank banner is morphed into AfroChase – replete with hair picks and cowrie shells. Massive neon signs that originally promoted “LIQUORS” now glow with a single pronouncement – SOUL. And a monumental installation Airplane Tears utilizes wall-mounted television backs to address emotional vulnerability. Ward’s assemblages of discarded or abandoned objects seem to simultaneously exude hopelessness and despair —as well as hope and humor.
“We are especially pleased that the Nerman is hosting Nari Ward’s first one-person museum exhibition in the United States,” said Bruce Hartman, executive director, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.
Ward earned his bachelor’s degree in art from Hunter College, New York, and his master’s degree in fine arts from Brooklyn College. He is currently a professor of art and sculpture at Hunter College.
He has received commissions from the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Joan Mitchell Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Grant and Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m.; closed Mondays and college holidays.