Nari Ward, Sun Splashed, Pérez Museum of Art, Miami

This extraordinary display is the largest exhibition of Nari Ward’s found object sculptures and installations to date, including works from the 1990s to today and also including supporting photography, video, and collage. Together this mid-career show discusses themes including African-American history and culture, the dynamics of power, the politics of immigration, and the search for cultural identity.

Ward’s innovative approach to sculpture pushes traditional boundaries and has expanded contemporary definitions of installation, assemblage, and site-specificity; while his creations incorporate everyday found objects to challenge viewers’ perceptions of the banal, or political situations that they might take for granted. This show ranges from works such as Saviour, 1996, which transforms a supermarket shopping trolley into an intricate 10ft sculpture, to Happy Smilers – Duty Free Shopping, created in the same year and immersing the audience in a large-scale installation with its own constant soundtrack, including found domestic objects, and its own fire escape.

Later works reference the artist’s native Jamaica, such as Homeland Sweet Homeland, 2012: a wall hanging that explains the rights of citizens when interacting with the police and prosecutors, and that seems at first simply a delicate painting, however in fact contains all manners of threatening collaged items, barbed wire for example; and Canned Smiles, 2013 that references a seminal 1961 conceptual artwork by Italian artist Piero Manzoni through two tin cans simply labelled “Jamaican Smiles” and “Black Smiles,” to discuss the racial and national identity of Caribbean diaspora.

Nari Ward, Sun Splashed, until 6 March 2016, Pérez Museum of Art, 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Florida 33132.

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1. Nari Ward, Iron Heavens, 1995. Installation of oven pans, ironed cotton and charred wooden bats. Photo courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin.