Body of Work | Akwi Nji

Body of Work, 2021

Akwi’s current practice explores the deconstruction of fabric-based objects as a catalyst from which a reclamation of self might emerge. In Body of Work, deconstructed suit jackets worn at a specific time in the artist’s life are bound and ritualized. There is at once tension and tenderness, an evocation of the talisman and the chrysalis, an indication that what remains of a past is here and is perhaps being gestated into the new.

This sculptural work is fueled, in part, by contemporary considerations of the relationship between labor and identity as well as the assertions of Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro including his statement that “there would be no lynching if it did not start in the schoolroom.”

Body of Work is the artist’s first attempt to unpack her own experiences in public education — as a student, teacher, and administrative leader — in the context of race, labor, and what it means to “make a living.”