Nari Ward Prayer Living
Nari Ward: Prayer for the Living
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One has an opportunity to attend “Prayer for the Living”, a solo exhibition by Nari Ward, a famous artist from America. The show is being held at Galleria Continua in Dubai and will be open to the public until February 19, 2023.

One of the exhibits, the “Ballast of Miracles” installation, comprises looming balloons and a base made of KEU2001, a by-product of the tannery process. The choice of this cement-like material generated from waste is deliberate: the artist revises its past energy and examines its current form, which brings up a question “Where this material’s discarded energy has gone?”. For Ward, this empty presence is correlated with devotion and faith. The installation is an invitation for the viewers to think about their relationship to mystery, faith, religion, and try to answer the question of what happens to energy when it has gone.

Nari Ward, Ballast of Miracles, 2018. Resin, found objects, KEU2001, iron, concrete, variable dimensions.

In the artworks “HERE”, “NOW”, “TOGETHER”, and “WITH”, the small shadow-like shapes remind of what Ward witnessed during the pandemic in New York. Many would meet in the streets to have a drink and leave empty bottles on the sidewalks. At the same time, prayer candles in glass containers were placed outside houses where someone had died; due to closed funeral homes, people gather on the streets to mourn together. The former was a celebration of life, and the latter was an attempt to memorialize what has been lost. Such dissimilar manifestations of need and emotions fascinated Ward. He started to collect the used glass containers from the streets and re-inscribe them in a different frame. As a result, a narrative of darkness and loss was turned into hope.

In the show, there will also be Ward’s series of artworks “Prayer”, in which the theme of spirituality and devotion is seen in the shadowed presence of prayer beads and handprints, and “Radiant Scans”. The last series consists of pictures taken with a thermal camera that creates an image using infrared radiation. The objects from mundane life in these pictures look as if they are floating and create thus a ghostly still-life. Here, a question about the visible and the invisible is brought up.

Nari Ward, Together, 2023. Patinated copper, copper nails, wood. 34 1/10 × 34 1/10 × 3 in | 86.5 × 86.5 × 7.5 cm

Nari Ward (born in 1963, St. Andrew, Jamaica) has been living in Harlem, New York, since the 90s. In 1989, he received a BA degree from City University of New York, Hunter College (New York, NY). In 1992, the artist got a MFA degree from City University of New York, Brooklyn College (Brooklyn, NY).

To create his installations, Ward uses discarded materials and objects which he finds in his urban neighborhood (tar slabs, baby strollers, dried salted codfish, glass bottles, doors, etc.). In his artworks, he addresses social and political issues connected to race, poverty, migration, community, and consumer culture. The themes which the artist delves into also includes memorial, remembrance, and societal relationships. The artist intentionally leaves the meaning of his work open so the viewers can provide their own interpretations.

Nari Ward, Radiant Scan #811, 2013-2023. Photo on wood, copper nails. 18 1/10 × 21 3/10 × 1 1/5 in | 46 × 54 × 3 cm

He has his works exhibited in solo shows organized at such museums and institutions as Vilcek Foundation, New York, NY (2022); Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO (2020); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2017); and many others. He has taken part in numerous group exhibitions, as well: In the Heart of Another Country, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (2022); Prospect.5 New Orleans: Yesterday we said tomorrow, New Orleans, LA (2021); Grief and Grievance, New Museum, New York, NY (2021); and many others.

Ward’s art is included in multiple international public and private collections: the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece; GAM, Galleria Civica di arte, Torino, Italy; and many others.

To learn more about the Prayer for the Living exhibition, please visit its official web page.

You may also be interested in visiting Loose Threads by Daniel Canogar.