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An Immigrant Artist in America

May 13, 2017
Plain English Version

Nari Ward is an artist from Jamaica. He lives and works in a former Harlem fire station.

Nari Ward

Nari Ward takes everyday objects – most from New York streets. He uses them to convey strong messages. Ward loads his work with metaphor and dual meaning. He wants viewers to draw their own conclusions. “I’m trying to find those middle spaces,” says Ward. “There’s always the contrast that creates the conversation.”

Take “We the People” The piece spells out the opening words to the preamble of the U.S. Constitution. It uses shoelaces. It shows how he repurposes everyday objects.

We the People

There is a rebar jutting from the backs of his Socrates Sculpture Park goats. Ward says it is an image of optimism. Many builders in Jamaica leave rebar exposed. It makes it makes it easier to add more floors. “When I see the rebar sticking out the roof, I always think about it as optimistic possibilities for the next generation.”


A critic commented on the works of Ward. One is titled “Spellbound.” It is made of hundreds of loose keys (from locks) that have been nailed to a piano, It is as if the instrument were carrying the ghosts of all the music it had ever played.


The piece, Work (In Progress) is composed of some 700 copper-covered bricks painted with colored patterns. Three big wall sculptures are made from single pieces of copper sheeting covered with countless strokelike marks made by the artist’s moving feet.

Ground (In Progress)

Ward insists he, is not a political artist. “I want to change the way someone may think about their own life,” he says. But he is also challenging his audiences to see the world around them differently.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor May 11, 2017

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