#56 Power, Purpose and Privilege with Artists Nari Ward and Derrick AdamsPublished 11 April 2019
“As an artist I feel like it’s my role to bring that moment of history—that moment of doubt, frustration, of fear—into the present,” says Nari Ward in conversation with fellow artist Derrick Adams on this episode of In Other Words.
Ward is the subject of a major retrospective at the New Museum (“Nari Ward: We the People” until 26 May)—which spans 25 years of his work and has been heralded as “persistent and liberating” by The New York Times. The sculptor—who has been called an accumulation artist for his often large-scale work involving discarded material—has lived and worked in Harlem since the beginning of his career and uses the neighborhood as source and inspiration.
Art is the perfect medium for exploring such complicated subjects as gentrification, power and the AIDS crisis, Ward says: “It should challenge, consume, maybe even disrupt—and then it should also figure out, because it is art. It is artifice. It is a safe space to consider those different moments.”
Adams is the subject of two concurrent exhibitions on show in New York right now (“Derrick Adams: Interior Life” at Luxembourg & Dayan until the 20 April and “Derrick Adams: New Icons” at Mary Boone Gallery until 27 April). “I thought that successful art was about penetrating the world with images that you want people to see,” he says to host Charlotte Burns. “I want to give viewers other options of looking at black American culture”, he says, especially the normalcy of “what people were doing as a break.”
Together, Ward and Adams discuss everything from God and spirituality in art, to the power and purpose of making art. They talk real estate and repression, and discuss the power of imagination and moral compassion.
Tune in to In Other Words today for this and much more.
Click here for the full transcript.
Charlotte Burns: Hello and welcome to In Other Words, where we cover everything you ever wanted to know about the art world but didn’t know who to ask. I’m your host, Charlotte Burns, and today I’m joined by two brilliant contemporary artists who live and work in New York.
Nari Ward is a sculptor who’s also been called an accumulation artist for his poignant and innovative use of found materials. He is the subject of a major retrospective that spans 25 years of his production at the New Museum, entitled “We the People”. It is on view until the 26th of May.
Nari Ward: Maybe in some ways, it’s a kind of a metaphor for what I think art should do. It should challenge, consume, maybe even disrupt—and then it should also figure out, because it is art. It is artifice. It is a safe space to consider those different moments.
Derrick Adams is an artist who layers and hybridizes painting, sculpting, performance and video. He is the subject of two concurrent exhibitions on show right now in New York, “Derrick Adams: Interior Life” at Luxembourg & Dayan Gallery until the 20th of April; and “Derrick Adams: New Icons”, which is the final exhibition in the uptown Mary Boone Gallery, on show until the 27 April.
Derrick Adams: My takeaway was, “if they can do this, I can do whatever I want, too.”
Before we begin, here’s your reminder to subscribe to our In Other Words newsletter at artagencypartners.com. And now, onto today’s show.
Derrick Adams is a multidisciplinary New York-based artist working in performance, video, sound and 2D and 3D realms. His practice focuses on the fragmentation and manipulation of structure and surface, exploring self image and forward projection.
A recipient of a 2009 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and a 2014 S.J. Weiler Award, Adams received his MFA from Columbia . University, BFA from Pratt Institute and is a Skowhegan and Marie Walsh Sharpe alum.
His exhibition and performance highlights include: Greater New York ’05, MoMA PS1: Open House: Working in Brooklyn ’04, Brooklyn Museum of Art; PERFORMA ’05, ’13, ’15; Radical Presence & The Shadows Took Shape, Studio Museum in Harlem; The Channel, Brooklyn Academy of Music; and is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Birmingham Museum of Art.
His work can be seen in New York at Tilton Gallery; Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago; Gallerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris; and Vigo Gallery, London.
Nari Ward (b. 1963, St. Andrew, Jamaica; lives and works in New York) is known for his sculptural installations composed of discarded material found and collected in his neighborhood. He has repurposed objects such as baby strollers, shopping carts, bottles, doors, television sets, cash registers and shoelaces, among other materials.
Nari Ward received a BA from City University of New York, Hunter College in 1989, and an MFA from City University of New York, Brooklyn College in 1992. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2017); Socrates Sculpture Park, New York (2017); The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (2016); Pérez Art Museum Miami (2015); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA (2011); Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2002); and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (2001, 2000). Select group exhibitions featuring his work include Black: Color, Material, Concept, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2015); NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, New Museum, New York (2013); Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Rotunda, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010); the Whitney Biennial, New York (2006); Landings, Documenta XI, Kassel, Germany (2002); Passages: Contemporary Art in Transition, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Projects: How to Build and Maintain the Virgin Fertility of Our Soul, MoMA PS1, Long Island City; The Listening Sky, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; 1995 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of Art, New York; and Cardinal Points of the Arts, 45th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy.
Where to look
In Pictures: Recent Works by Nari Ward and Derrick Adams
The live record
Behind the Scenes with Nari Ward, Derrick Adams and Charlotte Burns
For more on Nari Ward:
- “Nari Ward: We the People” at the New Museum
- “Nari Ward’s Salvaged Worlds: The artist reflects on the objects and memories that made him” by Carl Swanson for Vulture magazine, 12 February 2019
- “Artist Nari Ward’s American Mythos” by Jacoba Urist for Cultured magazine, 13 February 2019
For more on Derrick Adams:
- “Derrick Adams: Interior Life” at Luxembourg & Dayan
- “Derrick Adams: New Icons” at Mary Boone Gallery
- “How an Artist Learned About Freedom From ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’“, by Meredith Mendelsohn for The New York Times, 19 January 2018