Nafis M. White American, b. 1977


courtesy of the artist: 

Nafis White is an interdisciplinary, multihyphenate artist whose recent body of works are created from objects commonly found in beauty supply stores, industrial sites and the seemingly limitless horizons of our global and political landscapes. Through weaving, hairdressing, sculpture and installation, White centers the uncanny audacity of self-affirmation and love by means of repetition as a form of change. White is inspired by raw materials and their transformative properties and abilities to tell dynamic stories when in congress. White’s formal training is in sculpture, printmaking and digital media. She uses concept as anchor and medium as message in her work moving within conceptual and durational realms. Community engagement, beauty and the political root deep in White’s work. 

White draws inspiration from the rich Diaspora of experiences and traditions of Black beauty and self care built upon centuries old histories of embodied knowledge that honors, celebrates, and values the innovation, technology and imagination carried through and passed on by the fingertips of Black people. Through play and continuous exploration, White employs her research on the intricate customs of Victorian Hair Weaving and mourning traditions and appropriates them using Black hair, beauty products, and African and African American hairstyling techniques where they were never imagined to take up space and esteem. She exaggerates pattern and scale with keen emphasis beholden on colors and textures to draw viewers into her creative process, while simultaneously honoring the resilience and power of a people whose very existence and aesthetics have been the subject of ridicule, persecution and systemic erasure since their harrowing and iniquitous arrival upon these shores. 


White’s work is in the permanent collection of the RISD Museum, Providence, RI; Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI; and The University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM. Her work has been exhibited at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; the RISD Museum, Providence, RI; National Queer Arts Festival, San Francisco, CA; David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, RI; the New Museum, New York, NY; Goldsmiths, University of London; Autograph ABP, London; OXO Tower, London; and Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI. Recent residencies include Wheaton College Artist-in-Residence, Norton, MA; Iris Project Residency, Los Angeles, CA; and SPACES residency and exhibition, Cleveland, OH; and the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT. Nafis M. White holds an MFA in Printmaking and Digital Media (2018) and BFA in Sculpture, concentration Art History (2015) from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI; and studied at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK (2016). 

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