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Nicole Awai: Vistas on view at Lesley Heller Workspace

24 June 2017
Nicole Awai

Nicole Awai: Vistas (
May 17 – June 30, 2017


• a mental view of a succession of remembered or anticipated events: vistas of freedom seemed to open ahead of him

Lesley Heller Workspace is pleased to present Nicole Awai: Vistas, the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery. Nicole Awai is known for her multi-media works that make use of non-traditional mediums such as melted vinyl, nail polish, nylon mesh, found doll parts, and synthetic paper. Her work references and is influenced by the Caribbean landscape, in particular the La Brea Pitch Lake in Trinidad, her country of birth.

Vistas is comprised of a series Awai has been creating since the mid 2000s where she has been in part, exploring characteristics of oozing in her work. The specific works in this show—produced between 2013 to 2017—were made following a 2012 Art Matters Grant the artist received to travel back to Trinidad to visit the La Brea Pitch Lake—the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world. Awai was searching for connections or influences to explain the use of black oozing in her work. The tar-like substance becomes an archaeological framework in her artworks to preserve and represent visual and cultural materials; a fluid yet stable visual and symbolic ground from which to explore cultural dialogs.

Vistas are the momentary glimpses of an experience. The ooze serves as a junction or space for her to engage and infuse a diverse set of meanings. Awai states that she has “come to understand that this black oozing materiality is in actuality a site of confluence - of our histories, our physical existence and the elasticity of time, space and place in the Americas.” 

Nicole Awai's work is featured in the current issue of Small Axe (52), special issue, Art as Caribbean Feminist Practice

Oozing between Dimensions: Multiple Perspectives on the Real in the Works of Nicole Awai, by Michelle Stephens

Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism