Nari Ward is a Jamaican-born artist who lives and works in New York City. Here he discusses the extensive survey of twenty years of his practice, “Sun Splashed,” which opened this month at the Pérez Art Museum Miami and is on view through February 21, 2016.
SOUND IS LIKE A SPIRIT. It is in everything. When you write a rhythm you are acknowledging the sound that is already here and simply amplifying it. My work is visual; however, I also make sonic space, and even when there is no sound component the surrounding air has an aural quality. Happy Smilers, 1996, was an early artwork that that was first shown at Deitch Projects, and I am thrilled to see it up in Miami, because it hasn’t been shown since then. For that piece, I was inspired by a numbers runner who lived in my old apartment building and ran a candy shop downstairs where no one bought candy—I was drawn to how he set up a false expectation. Similarly, I created a fake storefront in order to disrupt the expectation produced by the white cube. In those days working with Jeffrey Deitch in New York, you had the space to make installations that commented on the social texture of the city. I learned something then that I still value today: that art isn’t about making products for a gallery.
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