November 16, 2021-February 20, 2022
OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas
201 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
The AMA | Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Permanent Mission of Trinidad and Tobago to the OAS proudly present WENDY NANAN, a retrospective solo exhibition by the pioneering Trinidadian artist. Curated by Trinidadian-Canadian scholar Andil Gosine, WENDY NANAN will be the largest exhibition of the artist’s life’s work, and will include key projects from her repertoire over the last four decades:
Cricket: Since the early 1980s, Nanan has been drawing scenes of cricketers from games she has attended, some with her parents, who were dedicated fans of the sport. These drawings are remarkable for their intense observation and quick calligraphic rendering in the Japanese zenga manner, of cricket in play at the Queen’s Park Oval. Occupying the AMA’s largest gallery, this exhibition marks the first time that so many of the works are seen together.
Breath: Following her recent exhibition in Trinidad, Nanan has created a series of eight new pod-like sculptures for this exhibition. Constructed from papier-mâché and sea shells that the artist has collected over regular trips to Manzanilla beach along the Trinidad’s Atlantic coast, and sculpted in the form of a vulva, the series is centrally concerned with the anxieties about women’s bodies and sexualities. Accompanying the series will be the debut of a 22-minute video by the curator in which the artist recounts her biography while audiences witness their creation.
Additionally, four brightly-coloured papier-mâché sculptures complete the show:
Depicting a marriage between the Hindu god Vishnu and the Catholic Madonna in a space that is part-temple, part-church, in Idyllic Marriage, Nanan thrusts into an interrogation of the necessary discomfort of mixing in the Americas, slyly observant of both the productive rewards and violence of hybridity. The piece simultaneously invites critique and reflection about male-female relationships and the historical institutionalized marginalization of women.
A new Baby Krishna from her series that reimagines the Hindu deity Krishna, will also debut. The original series of four papier-mâché sculptures presented an answer to the question, “What happens when Asia comes to the Americas?” Nanan’s depictions not only add Christian-signifying angel wings and a halo, reflecting the reality of cultural mixing in the region, but also various items (including sugarcane, salt, and oil) that signify the industries that were socially formative across the region. The resulting work is neither blasphemous nor celebratory and is offered instead as a catalyst for contemplative interrogation of our times.
The Bounce from her oversized book series continues the artist’s exploration of shared struggles and spiritualities across the Americas. In this work, lyrics from the epic Billie Holiday song are the background text to the bounce between the Hindu god Ganesh and The Lion of The Twelve Tribes. It references the “bounce” shared between Barack and Michelle Obama on election night, a time when universal forces colluded to say we have finally overcome.
Finally, Persona charts the artist’s biography in nine phases.
Born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1955, Nanan is the first Indo-Trinidadian, and among the first Caribbean women artists to have a long and sustained professional practice. She obtained her BFA at Wolverhampton Polytechnic,England in 1979. Her work is included in many public and private collections, including Trinidad and Tobago’s National Museum. In her practice, Nanan takes on core questions at the heart of historical and contemporary struggles about identity, culture and power in the region. She has produced work that is at once historically and geographically specific to the place she inhabits, and timeless, gently provocative and persistently infused with her feminist politics. While Nanan is deeply respected by peers and critics in the Caribbean, she remains an under-attended-to artist, in part due to her determined locally-situated practice,she has remained in Trinidad since completing art school in 1980, and is famously reclusive, her philosophy being that “it is more important to create the work than to seek an audience for it.” Work by Nanan will also be included in "Cultural Encounters - Art of the Asian Diaspora" at Morikami Museum (Florida), and "Visible Man - Art and Black Male Subjectivity" at the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery (Ohio), in 2020.
Andil Gosine is Professor of Environmental Art & Justice at York University, Toronto, and author of Nature's Wild: Love, Sex and Law in the Caribbean (Duke, 2021). Dr. Gosine is also curator of the forthcoming exhibitions everything slackens in a wreck at the Ford Foundation Gallery in New York and Unfinished Business at the Leslie-Lohman Museum. The companion touring exhibition for Nature's Wild will debut at Medulla Art Gallery in Port of Spain, Trinidad in January 2021, making various stops before closing at AMA in 2025.
Accessibility: This exhbition takes place on AMA's second floor. There is a flight of winding stairs leading to the museum’s second floor. Restrooms are located on the second floor. For more information on accessibility, please contact 202 370 0147 or email@example.com