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Artist Inspiration: Woodrow Nash

I try to stay off of Facebook as much as I can. Not because I don’t like it, but because I like it too much! It sucks me in and I stay at my desk scrolling and scrolling for hours while barely blinking. Sometimes, three or four hours could have passed before I’ve even looked away from the screen and I can’t reclaim that time! All I’m doing is catching up on the latest horrors in the world or cute cat photos. In other words, there is little return on investment for this activity. So, I try to stay away as much as I can.

Artwork by Woodrow Nash: "Fatima, what of the body?"
Artwork by Woodrow Nash: “Fatima, what of the body?”

But today, something useful came out of my scroll. I found out about the work of Woodrow Nash, a sculptor in Ohio. Nash has been an artist for over 40 years. He’s done it all, from fashion illustrating to graphic design. However, he found his spark when he began creating life-sized human sculptures of African women and men. The statues feature intricate carvings inspired by Nigerian gold-weight symbols.

His sculptures are created with the precision of Michelangelo , with specific and significant differences. Nash’s sculptures are heavily adorned in a way that reflects traditional African culture. He asserts that the work doesn’t reflect a specific tribe or culture. He plays to what unifies the cultures- jewelry, cloth and body adornments that play an important part in the societies.

He also leaves the eye sockets open, which alludes to African masks. But at a psychological level, the hollow eyes take the work out of the realistic and makes the beings otherworldly.

He named this combination of classical, art nouveau and African art “African Nouveau”, which thrilled me because I’d been searching for a word that describes the work I want to do.

Nash’s statues will have a lasting impact on my work because I also seek to uplift the human spirit and nurture a sense of cultural awareness and appreciation. Let’s hope I can stay off of facebook long enough to make that happen.




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