Photo credit: Amelia Nura

Michelle Lisa Polissaint (Miami, FL)
Southern Constellations Fellow. February 2019. Acrylic and concrete on museum collection chairs and miscellaneous items. Dimensions variable.

Dine nan Nwa is a series of site-specific sculptures that invites viewers to sit at the table with two immigrants: the artists’ parents. Polissaint states: “I felt pulled to North Carolina by several people and relationships in recent years, and upon entering Elsewhere for the first time I was hit with the “why” immediately. Stacks of books, groupings of like things from luggage, to toys, to thread, to piles of porcelain dishes, and glass jars: all reminiscent of the home curated by my parents, creating the person I am today.” The intersections of her upbringing in the American South as a child of two Black Haitian immigrants are constantly discussed in her body of work, but focused solely on personal experiences of the artist. With this work, the artist shifts the focus to her parents by placing sculptural portraits of them within Elsewhere’s dining room.

Dine nan Nwa (“Dinner in Black” in Haitian Creole) invites the Polissaint parents to take a permanent seat at the kitchen table in the form of two sculptural chairs. Highlighting their careers and the domestic work that led them to the American South from Vieux-Bourg-d’Aquin, these chairs carry stacks of museum collection items to individually characterize both parents. The constructed architectural shapes echo the imagery of rolling hills in Haiti as well as the tidy, pragmatic arrangements around Elsewhere. Eight other chairs were selected by the artist to also be present at the table, evoke Southern hospitality, and invite in specific colors often found painted on Haitian homes.

Project in Response To: The Kitchen Commons, Ni Aquí, Ni Allá (Neither Here nor There), Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (or The Last Supper)

 


Process

Documentation of sculpture production and engagement with museum visitors. Photo credit: Amelia Nura