Helina Metaferia

Silver Spring, MD

December 15, 2018 - January 15, 2019

Artist Statement

I am interested in using art as an excuse to have meaningful conversations about time, space, and belonging. My art touches on a diasporic longing for a physical and psychic “home,” in a time of increased voluntary and involuntary mass migration of black bodies, particularly for issues pertaining to immigration and gentrification. Through an interdisciplinary practice that is grounded in an exploration of the performative body, I employ performance, video, installation, sculpture, and mark-making to address the complexities of transnational and global identity in our post-modern, post-colonial society. 

In my work, I explore the visual language of maps, lines, text, movement, and circular forms — all tools to help the body navigate the world. Drawing inspiration from the written or spoken word, I develop characters that are perform live. These performance personas activate art objects in ways that are parallel to traditional African art practices, where wearable sculpture intersects with theater and storytelling.

My work is largely inspired by my relocation journey as an artist seeking affordable live/work space, having lived in six major cities, all of which are undergoing massive gentrification. The work is also influence by my inherited migration story as an American person born to Ethiopian parents. In our current social/political climate, where black lives are continuing to fight to matter in the eyes of dominant culture, my art seeks to consider a reconciliation with the dream for a romanticized homeland (in my case Ethiopia) with the current complicated reality of being black in America. 

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