Nadia Wolff explores Haitian identity and class

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[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] On September 14, Nadege Green (WLRN) interviewed Miami artist Nadia Wolff, who explores Haitian identity and class through her artwork. The installation discussed in the interview—“A Place to Be Held”—was on display from August 6 to 29, 2018.

Wolff, who is currently studying textile art at the Rhode Island School of Design and African Studies at Brown University, showed her installation at the BayParc Apartments exhibition space through a collaboration with the national nonprofit YoungArts. Here are excerpts of Green’s interview:

WLRN: What inspired this installation?

WOLFF: The installation was inspired by my first trip to Haiti. I had never been before and my family is Haitian. So the trip brought up a lot of questions about belonging about identity. I essentially reinvented a black Caribbean domestic space. I was thinking about how many of the objects that black Caribbean folks curate and collect into these spaces speak to the way that we understand home or the ways we try to create intimacy for ourselves. And at the same time how that speaks to these similar histories of trauma particularly in terms of colonialism in the Caribbean.

Did you learn anything about yourself through this process going to your parents’ homeland Haiti for the very first time? Did you discover anything new about you?

I learned a lot about my family. It’s very difficult to understand what people reference and stories talking about family histories when you haven’t been to the physical spaces they’re talking about. So for me certain things that I understood in a very vague sense were made very physical and very concrete. Haiti specifically is a black nation. So the way that you speak about race is less in terms of blackness in relation to other races, its blackness in relation to blackness. And then that starts to refer to class.

I visited my family’s home in Port au Prince in Haiti and just a lot of the ways that my family understands class and understands blackness was made really tangible in seeing that space and being able to move through it and looking at the distinction between their bedrooms and their kitchens and then, for example, the spaces where the cooks or the maids would live within the property.  There’s such a distinction there that I think really informed the way that my family when they came to the US still understands class even if it isn’t directly translatable in the US. [. . .]

For full interview, see http://www.wlrn.org/post/miami-artist-nadia-wolff-explores-haitian-identity-and-class-new-work

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