Trinidad-born artist Nicole Awai’s multimedia works delve into her sense of identity and place, creating dimensional creations that reference Caribbean and American terrains, architecture, and the domestic sphere.
As a critic at the Yale School of Art from 2009 to 2015, she secured her place in the eyes of a new generation of artists working to find their place in history.
The first work shown above, on paper from 2019, "plays with what we know as familiar," says the artist. She uses “sensation codes'' encouraging the viewer to read the work like a map. The evolution of this naming process became a way to map the cultural and ethnographic progression of our 21st century urban evolution.
The “primordial ooze” is a recurring theme in her work as well, acting simultaneously as a site of demise and rejuvenation. “My work has been oozing for the last 20 years,” Awai has said. “In my work there’s always been many layers of implication and meaning sometimes even beyond what I’m aware of. An early influence on my work was printmaking—layers of thought, process, labor, and materials.”
Born in Port of Spain-Trinidad and Tobago, Nicole Awai is known for her multi-media works that “ooze” and make use of non-traditional mediums such as melted vinyl, nail polish, nylon mesh, found doll parts, and synthetic paper. Awai's art is a site of historical confluences that explores the elasticity of time, space and place in the Americas.
She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture residency in 1997 and was artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2000. Awai was a featured artist in the 2005 Initial Public Offerings series at the Whitney Museum of American Art and has been awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant in 2011 and an Art Matters Grant in 2012.
Awai was a Critic at the Yale School of Art in the Department of Painting and Printmaking from 2009-2015. She has been a visiting assistant professor and educator at Yale School of Art, Parsons, Cooper Union, Pratt Institute and the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art. She is currently faculty in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.
Her work has been included in seminal exhibitions such as Greater New York: New Art in New York Now, at P.S. 1/ MOMA (2000), the Biennale of Ceramic in Contemporary Art (2003), Open House: Working in Brooklyn (2004), Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art (2007) both at the Brooklyn Museum, the 2008 Busan Biennale in Korea and The Studio Museum in Harlem and Bronx Museum among others. Her work has also been exhibited at the Queens Museum, Kemper Museum of Contemporary, The Vilcek Foundation and The Biennale of the Caribbean in Aruba (2013). Recent exhibitions include "SHE: Deconstructing Female Identity" at ArtsWestchester and Splotch at Sperone Westwater, "Envisioning the Liquid Land" at Lesley Heller Gallery, NY and The High Line Network exhibition "New Monuments for New Cities".