Nari Ward: Sub Mirage Lignum

Nari Ward_Sub Mirage LignumComposed of everyday found objects, Nari Ward’s dramatic sculptural installations examine issues of race, poverty, and consumer culture and the inherent meaning placed upon the discarded, as well as the treasured.

Currently, at MASS MoCA, visitors can view Ward’s latest large-scale installations taking over an entire floor of one of their buildings. The title of the exhibit, Sub Mirage Lignum, represents the three themes of the show: “sub, in the dual sense of “underneath” and “substitute for another (space)”; mirage, a false image produced by the refraction of light, subject to human interpretation; and lignum, derived from Lignum Vitae (“wood of life”), a tree whose bloom is the national flower of Jamaica.”

The centerpiece of the exhibit is Ward’s monumental work, Nu Colossus. The form of the sculpture comes from a small conical basket-woven fish trap, in which fish are lured in and ensnared. This duality of seduction and entrapment is at the center of Ward’s idea of mirage.

Born in St. Andrews, Jamaica, but living and working in New York since his teen years, Nari Ward became “particularly interested in Jamaican fishing villages as temporary spaces suggestive of both community and sustenance. Like in Ward’s work, these villages are made up of what the fishermen can find — old oil barrels dotting the shore and brightly painted, recycled plywood shacks. For Ward these villages go beyond the boundaries of the “Jamaican experience” and connect to the creative act itself, in both the utilization of reuse and in the wide net cast by both fishermen and artists, even though the outcome is unsure.”

Sub Mirage Lignum is now open at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts. One of the many interesting exhibits going on there.

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