Inside the Latest Exhibit by Nyugen E. Smith

Caitlin Clark, Paper City, December 18, 2020

With less people able to pay a visit to museums amid the pandemic, Dallas’ beloved Nasher Sculpture Center is making great local art and culture as accessible as possible. Beginning with Fort Worth artist Bernardo Vallarino in October, Nasher Public plans to showcase monthly exhibits from North Texas talent throughout the year. The two-pronged public art initiative will debut works both in the Nasher Store, newly constituted as a gallery space (though it will reopen again as a shop in late 2021) and at soon-to-be-determined destinations throughout the Dallas community.

 

The latest exhibit, open to the public in the Nasher Store and viewable from the street through the museum’s towering glass windows, features the work of Nyugen E. Smith, a first-generation Caribbean-American and lecturer on Interdisciplinary Art at SMU. The Spirit Carriers is a series of found object sculptures the artist began creating in the summer of 2016. “During that summer we had experienced the killing of two other unarmed Black males at the hands of police,” Smith shares in the video, below, shared with PaperCity. “And the frustration, the feelings that I was trying to process, manifest themselves in the form of a Spirit Carrier.”

 

The air balloon-style pieces, in shapes inspired by the crowns of Yoruba chiefs, float above the viewer, crafted as vessels that could carry and care for the spirits of unarmed people of color until, as Smith says, “the spirits can go where they need to go.” In keeping with Smith’s interdisciplinary approach, the sculptures are accompanied by a musical composition — part of a larger multi-part Smith project involving poetry, performance art, and more called Masta My Language.

 

Original Publication