Nari Ward

Breathing Flag, 2017 by Nari Ward

Ward’s Breathing Flag references Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) flag combined with an African prayer symbol known as a Congolese Cosmogram, representing birth, life, death and rebirth. Ward explains, “several of these hole patterns are drilled into the floorboards of one of the oldest African-American churches in the United States in Savannah, Georgia. It is believed that the drilled pattern functioned as breathing holes for runaway slaves who, hiding under the floor, awaited safe transport north.” He continues, “the union of that moment and of Garvey’s black nationalist flag acknowledge the resilience of the human spirit to survive even as we continue the need to remind America that Black Lives Matter.”


About Nari Ward

Nari Ward was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica and lives and works in New York. He graduated with a BA from City University of New York, Hunter College in 1989 and an MFA from City University of New York, Brooklyn College in 1992. Ward’s work has been widely exhibited on an international level, including solo exhibitions at The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA (2016); Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL (2015); and elsewhere. Ward’s solo exhibition G.O.A.T., again is currently on view at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York City.


Photograph by Nicholas Prakas