Miami native Nadia Wolff is a Haitian-American artist, designer, poet, and maker whose work beautifully blends culturally significant themes of gender, sexuality, race, and identity. As a senior at a magnet high school, Wolff was a 2016 YoungArts winner in Visual Arts and Design Arts, as well as a 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Currently, Wolff is pursing a five-year dual degree (BFA + BA) focusing on textile arts at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and Africana studies at Brown University. In this week’s Friday Five we learn more about the fine artist’s creative inspirations and influences.
The way that I move through the world is incredibly influenced by light, and I am incredibly drawn to vibrant color and pattern. This is definitely an inheritance from the cultures I claim, having grown up in Miami, Florida raised by Haitian immigrants. I’m constantly noting color, light, and pattern in architecture, textiles, nature, crowds of strangers.
Poetry is constantly on my mind–from the poets I follow on Twitter, to the daily poem in my inbox each morning, to the objects and motifs I gravitate towards in my writing, art, and design work. One collection of poems that struck me recently is LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs’ “TwERK.” She is also an incredible performer, and the blending of language, identity, and sound in her work is stunning to witness live.
3. Janelle Monáe’s Afrofuturism
Janelle Monáe’s artistry is one of my greatest inspirations. As a perfectionist and someone very conscious of her privacy, her music designs literal universes as metaphors to describe and frame the experiences of black, queer, and otherwise marginalized people. I’m inspired by the beautiful complexity and sophistication with which her work contends with these issues, while also loading the work with a potent joy, humor, and celebration.
4. Audio recordings
I keep a pretty consistently updated archive of atmospheric sounds and conversations with loved ones on my phone. Often these conversations are moments where family or friends are directly or obliquely describing how intimacy is crafted in their lives, whether through music, food, humor, memories, or emotional bonds.
The National YoungArts Foundation has been one of the most incredible resources for me as a young artist and designer. I first thought of a career as a visual maker as a tangible future for myself when attending YoungArts week. The organization provided me with the support to complete my first larger scale installation, and also connected me with some of the artists and designers I consider my closest friends and collaborators.