Through wool sculptures, Nastassja Swift reflects and expresses her point in topics like Blackness, particularly those that relate to ancestral presences, spirituality, history, and the body. The fiber artist is inspired by West African masks and Yoruba ritual practices, and her artworks are truly unmissable! Keep reading to discover the artist and impressive figurative wool sculptures!
My work explores the ways in which identity is defined and disrupted. Re-interpreting who can be worshipped, challenging archived history, and questioning language around racialized bodies, these felted faces exist repetitively as vessels of stories and ancestral presence as a way of narrating Black stories, experiences, and memories.Nastassja Swift
A unique wool sculpture portrays multiple narrative threads, and the artist doesn’t try to disclose each one, preferring explicit gaps in the connections. She is now the owner and designer of D for Dolls, an online store of handmade needle felted figures.
Most of the faces don’t represent anyone or anything in particular. Swift opts for portraying “an ancestral presence that allows my hand to make the face in any particular moment without my mind being aware of it.”. The artwork entitled “Passage, when momma lets my braids flow down my back“, for example is a bubblegum pink figure wearing a collar with smaller heads ordered in a gradient, long braids fall down the torso and pool on the floor. This wool sculpture interprets distinctive subjects as West African masks and sculptural forms, aiming to examine the meaning of worshiping someone.
Nastassja always starts with the flexible shape of the face and then works the facial details and hair from dyed wool and felt. An intimate process that’s evolved with two more recent works. The fiber artist will have a satellite exhibition titled Canaan: when I read your letter, I feel your voice, showing her wool sculptures at the Contemporary Arts Network in Newport News, in June. Then, the pieces will be on view at the Galveston Arts Center, thanks to the Art as Activism Grant from the Black Box Press Foundation!