Bresler Resident: nwaọ

Artist Statement

Named after Nwaobiala, a group of Nigerian women who danced as resistance, I follow in the footsteps of my unyielding ancestors—dancing against marginalization by piecing together forgotten histories and inventing new memories. In ‘when did our bodies stop belonging to us?,’ I captured the history of and current attitudes towards tattooing in Nigeria and its Diaspora, tethering the erasure of Indigenous forms of tattooing to colonization. In my short film, ‘a new memory’, I stitched together the physical and spiritual lives of queer and trans Nigerians across time.

Leveraging my background in industrial engineering, I engineer community-owned, -centered, and -led systems of archivism, wielding the transformative power of art and connection to co-invent global Black LGBTQ+ community archives. My work, driven by a generational passion for storytelling, serves as a conduit for communing with our past, present, and future. 

About the Artist

nwaọ is a Nigerian-American, queer, and agender multidisciplinary artist and archivist. Their work is a critical analysis and reimagining of Black physical and spiritual being within African historical and cultural contexts. nwaọ drives conversations about queerness and gender identity within the collective, cultural, and contemporary memory of the African Diaspora.

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About the Fleur and Charles Bresler Residency: In honor of VisArts patrons, Fleur and Charles Bresler, VisArts invites applications and proposals from local, national, and international artists for a four month residency at VisArts at Rockville. This residency provides a unique opportunity for a dynamic individual artist or collaborative artist team to create a new body of work, evolve an existing body of work, or develop a project in a stimulating, supportive environment. Studio space is provided free of charge. The residency encourages interaction, dialogue and exploration both within the VisArts artist community and the larger Rockville community as well. The residency offers the gift of time and space to three artists and/or collaborative artist teams each year to experiment and realize new work. The current Bresler Resident Artists present their work in a solo exhibition at VisArts.

Learn more about the Fleur And Charles Bresler Residency.