I Belong Here: Art in times of Resurgent Nationalism
Tavares Strachan’s You belong Here (2011), a 120ft x 27ft neon piece, was displayed on a barge on the Mississippi River during Prospect.3, the New Orleans biennale, in 2014. With the work, the Bahamian-born artist boldly affirms his presence, his right to belong, to be firmly emplaced, and to be part of an American consciousness. Yet as he also explained, “to belong” is polemical and complex when considered against the history of race and immigration in the United States. In this current political climate of resurgent nativism and nationalism in the United States and around the world, how might we consider the values of Black art and aesthetics as a strategy of engagement? In this conversation with Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi (Curator of African Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College), artists Odili Odita and Sadie Barnette respond to the assault on “otherness,” drawing upon their creative practice, backgrounds, and individual experiences.