Miatta Kawinzi is a multi-disciplinary artist and educator of Liberian and Kenyan heritage. Raised in the southern U.S.A. and based in New York City, her work engages themes of hybridity, diaspora, and belonging. She received an MFA in Studio Art from Hunter College and a BA in Interdisciplinary Art & Cultural Theory from Hampshire College. Her work has been presented in spaces including the Studio Museum in Harlem, BRIC, MoMA PopRally, the Museum of the Moving Image, and IFC Center. Past residencies include POV Spark in partnership with the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture (NYC, DC, and Venice, Italy), Red Bull Arts Detroit (Detroit, MI), the Cité internationale des arts (Paris, France, with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), Beta-Local (San Juan, Puerto Rico), the Bag Factory (Johannesburg, South Africa), and the Bemis Center (Omaha, NE). She received the 2018 Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant administered by Queer|Art.
Born in Nashville, TN to a Liberian mother and Kenyan father, I grew up moving through various geographic, cultural, and linguistic spaces, which informs my interest in hybridity and layered imagery and content. I work with still and moving images, the voice and body, language, objects, space and sound to explore practices of re-imagining the self, identity, and culture through abstraction and poetics. Recent work traces a performative and experimental impulse through sculptural sound and video installation.
During the Fellowship, I will expand my ongoing research and creative production though historical, contemporary, and speculative relationships between the U.S. and Liberia - the West African republic founded in the 1800s with formerly enslaved Black people returning to the continent from the Americas and newly occupying positions of power. This project explores questions around hierarchy, Indigeneity, multiplicities and complexities of Blackness, cultural fragmentation, and the deep and steady yearning for the reparative.