Introducing Nafis White, an artist whose work spans from sculpture to dance, featured in WBRU’s Revolutionary Roots series.
Nafis White describes herself as “an artist, first and foremost.” But, having grown up in a family engaged in advocating for racial justice, being an activist “kind of comes with the territory” as well. White’s work as a “multihyphenate” artist is rooted in different practices and art forms, from dance to sculpture to weaving and hairdressing, which often explore and affirm Black beauty and self-care.
White’s work includes research of Victorian Hair Weaving, in which she reappropriates and reclaims white hair practices from this era for Black hair, working toward colorful, deliberately defiant empowerment -— through “play and continuous exploration.” She emphasizes that in her “appropriation of the Victorian… deep in my heart, I’m just stealing that shit back,” pointing in particular to longstanding Nigerian practices. The different art forms White practices draw on and engage with her own rich ancestry and specific experience of coming from a mixed-race family, as well as the centuries of experience and practice from the broader “Diaspora of experiences and traditions.”
Today, White lives and works in Providence, where she also earned her MFA and BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Today, in addition to practicing her art, she serves as Community Membership Manager for the AS220.