In the final episode of this series of A brush with..., Nari Ward talks to Ben Luke about his influences—including literature, music and, of course, art—and the cultural experiences that have shaped his life and work.
Ward often uses found materials, from baby strollers to baseball bats and shoelaces, and repurposes them in sculptures, wall-based text works and installations. They address present and historical social and political issues, including race and poverty, and deal directly with emotions like loss and hope.
Ward was born in 1963 in St Andrew, Jamaica, and moved with his family to the US when he was 12. He now lives and works in New York, and specifically Harlem, which has been much more than the location of his home and studio—often providing the raw materials and the thematic basis of his art.
The late curator Okwui Enwezor said of Ward that he had “completely transformed the scale and the ambition of installation art”. He discusses his early interest in the Brothers Hildebrandt, his direct references to Piero Manzoni and Joseph Beuys and his use of Claude McKay’s poetry and The Staple Singers’ lyrics. Plus, he answers the questions we ask all our guests, including the ultimate: what is art for?
• Nari Ward: I’ll Take You There; A Proclamation, Lehmann Maupin, 28 April-4 June.
• This is the final episode of Series 9 of A brush with..., you can download and subscribe to the podcast here. A brush with..., Series 10 will run from 1-22 June with episodes released on Wednesdays. This podcast is sponsored by Bloomberg Connects.