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
Leather, wood, feathers, fabric, canvas, beads, wire, plastic net, acrylic, rubber, felt, chain

2016

Photo: Kevin Todora
Installation view  (Nasher Sculpture Center)
Installation view
(Nasher Sculpture Center)

photo: Kevin Todora
Installation view  (Nasher Sculpture Center)
Installation view
(Nasher Sculpture Center)

photo: Kevin Todora
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
Spirit Carrier No.5
Leather, rubber, plastic net, beads, chain, metal, fabric, acrylic, fur, string, felt
18"x9"x9"
2016

photo: Kevin Todora
Spirit Carrier No.3
Leather, wood, cork, metal, beads, faux fur, synthetic hair, plastic net, paper, acrylic, twine, felt
18"x9"x9"
2016
Spirit Carrier No.4
Metal, fur, branches, plastic, twine, fabric, acrylic, wire, beads
17"x9"x9"
2016
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
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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