Nina Johnson is pleased to announce Stream Gradient, Jamilah Sabur’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, opening on February 15th, 2019 with a public reception (7-9pm), and remaining on view until April 6th, 2019. Through a series of sculptural wall pieces, the Miami-based interdisciplinary artist considers how time, family history, and environment impress themselves upon individuals. Created using burlap and plaster, two materials the artist has worked with since 2010, as well as wood and pigmented concrete, the works summon fragmented memories of her mother’s home in Jamaica: native birds, and the architecturally ambiguous spaces in which they lived.
Stream Gradient refers to the slope of a moving body of water. Measured by comparing the elevation of two different points in the stream, the gradient controls the direction, and speed, of the water. In rare cases, such as St. Johns River near Indian River County, Florida, the gradient is shallow enough to reverse the water’s flow. Artists and philosophers since Heraclitus have used rivers to symbolize the passing of time. Sabur is here concerned with the ability of that flow to move backward. Siting herself as an observer of the river, she uses this reversible flow to open up innumerable new relationships to geography—to unfix the river, and the land which it runs through, from cardinal directions. Following the St. Johns to its terminus in the Atlantic, this mutability stretches to encapsulate all of time.
Though she works across a variety of mediums, including installation and video, Sabur returns frequently to burlap and plaster, as the everyday materials allow for a haptic ritual during the object-making. Along with wood and pigmented concrete, these materials are the basis for many of the works on display. Sabur repeats the shape of two common birds—the Florida Scrub Jay and the Jamaican Baldpate—to embody the natural environment of her childhood and adult life. Complementing these organic forms are rhombuses (used as a universal form, a portal) and a sculptural rendition of the latticework above her mother’s door. Seen together, they create a dissonant landscape of the past. The shapes act as archetypes—built, gexometric, biological—of different types of memories. In negotiating these memories through the physical manipulation of her materials, Sabur rejoices in the overlap of time, in the strange sensation of having a body, of being from a place.
Jamilah Sabur (b. Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Miami, FL. She received her MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego in 2014 and her BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2009. Selected recent exhibitions include Hammer Projects: Jamilah Sabur, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Ibine Ela Acu/Water Sun Moon, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park, FL; Augmented Sunrise Beneath the Skin, gr_und project space, Berlin; Seances for the Living, SBC galerie d’art Contemporain, Montreal; Deconstruction: A reordering of life, politics, and art, Frost Art Museum, Miami; Between a view and a milestone, ArtCenter/South Florida; SCORCHED EARTH, Current Projects, Miami; The World’s Game: Futbol and Contemporary Art, Pérez Art Museum, Miami. She was an artist in residence at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum in 2017 and has given lectures at Design Miami; Coral Gables Museum, Florida; Innis Town Hall, University of Toronto and Flagler College, St. Augustine. Sabur is currently an artist in residence at ArtCenter/South Florida.