Trokon Nagbe

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Artist Statement

A first generation Liberian-American my work is rooted in relationships between displacement, continuity and self-construction. These relationships have been formed by the erasure of ancestral history due to the Arab-Islamization of West Africa then further destroyed by European Christian colonization. Within this historical inheritance I believe a life holds a unique soul alien from the continuum of history. That a soul enters into a body at birth forming a consciousness then separating at death. Like forming suns concentrated by gravity from gas and dust we are born into our physical bodies appropriating its histories. Question becomes how do you access your soul and bring out its desires. This is our vitality before memory records time altering our experience of reality.

Familiar with western social constructs of spiritual mobility my recent work focused on indigenous Liberians worship to explain their world-view of human existence. In particular the Bassa and Kru ethnic groups (parental ethnicities) of the Niger-Congo family of West Africa, however in the past millennium West African history and culture has been fractured from Arab and European domination creating a cultural inheritance that is alien to the region. Indigenous constructs that have survived and attempt to deal with access to our souls are dismissed as “bush religions”. Going to a native belief system of my ancestors connects me to themes that unify independent agents of a community, deepening the dialogue with my soul and its purpose in this life.

Continuing on the development of accumulated knowledge from ancestral beliefs a new methodology will begin to exam individuals with a committed system of belief coupled with a social program to change their society. The autobiography of Mohandas K. Gandhi “The story of my experiments with truth” will be used as a reference to a strong worldview and process to effect change. How was the concept of “Satyagraha” formed, is there evidence in the autobiography of Gandhi’s soul in relation with the historical context of his time.

 

CV

Born in Grand Bassa County, Liberia
Lives and works in New York City

Education

2004 M.F.A. Film and Sound from the Savannah College of Art and Design
2002 B.F.A. Painting mixed media from the Savannah College of Art and Design

Selected Group Exhibitions

2011 Galerie Dominique Fiat 16, rue des Saint-Gervais Paris France

2010 “Objects of a revolution” Galerie Dominique Fiat Paris France

2009 “Flow” Studio Museum of Harlem New York City

2007 “Current Curcuit” Espace Lhomond Paris France

2007 “Scraps” Starland Gallery, Savannah GA

2006 Pinnacle Gallery, Savannah GA

Residencies

2015–2016 Workspace Residency Program, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

2015 Engaging Artist residence

2015 Triangle Arts Workshop

2015 BRIC Arts Resident

2014 Triangle Arts Resident

Notable Publication

September 2009 issue of Art in America

The New York Times and Village Voice