From the Nasher Sculpture Center:

“The work of artist Nyugen E. Smith examines the universal human experiences of memory, trauma, and spirituality through the multifarious impacts of colonialism on the African diaspora. A first-generation Caribbean-American born in Jersey City, New Jersey, to Haitian and Trinidadian parents, and a Lecturer on Interdisciplinary Art at SMU in Dallas, Smith uses performance, found object sculpture, mixed media drawing, painting, video, photography, and writing to connect past upheavals with present political struggles. For Nasher Public, Smith presents fifteen Spirit Carriers, a series of found object constructions that the artist began in 2016. Suspended from the ceiling, the sculptures seem to float in the space, like eccentric, improvised air balloons. Their characteristic shape derives from the crowns of Yoruba chiefs, whose beaded headdresses featured veils to shield the monarch’s visage from the public, thus also protecting viewers from the chief’s power. Smith made the Spirit Carriers as vessels to carry and protect the spirits of unarmed people of color killed by the police, until, as the artist says, “the spirits can go where they need to go.”

Spirit Carrier No.10
Spirit Carrier No.10

Leather, wood, feathers, fabric, canvas, beads, wire, plastic net, acrylic, rubber, felt, chain 2016 Photo: Kevin Todora

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Installation view  (Nasher Sculpture Center)
Installation view (Nasher Sculpture Center)

Installation view (Nasher Sculpture Center) photo: Kevin Todora

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Installation view  (Nasher Sculpture Center)
Installation view (Nasher Sculpture Center)

Installation view (Nasher Sculpture Center) photo: Kevin Todora

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Spirit Carrier No.1
Spirit Carrier No.1

Found wood and fabric, canvas, rope, bells, guitar strings, metal, clay, yarn, acrylic, ink, wire, paper 57"x38"x38" photo: Cecil McDonald

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Spirit Carrier No.5
Spirit Carrier No.5

Leather, rubber, plastic net, beads, chain, metal, fabric, acrylic, fur, string, felt 18"x9"x9" 2016 photo: Kevin Todora

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Spirit Carrier No.3
Spirit Carrier No.3

Leather, wood, cork, metal, beads, faux fur, synthetic hair, plastic net, paper, acrylic, twine, felt 18"x9"x9" 2016

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Spirit Carrier No.4
Spirit Carrier No.4

Metal, fur, branches, plastic, twine, fabric, acrylic, wire, beads 17"x9"x9" 2016

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Spirit Carrier No.5
Spirit Carrier No.5

Found plastic, fur, canvas, beads, beads, wood, felt, leather, wire, chain, spray paint, acrylic 22"x8.5"x8.5" 2016 photo: Kevin Todora

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Spirit Carrier No.6
Spirit Carrier No.6

Canvas, fabric, plastic, beads, tarp, chain, tassels, branches, beads, wire, fur, rubber, synthetic hair, acrylic, plastic net 19”x 11”x 11” photo: Kevin Todora

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