I was born and raised in Haiti and arrived in this country at fourteen years old, clutching innocence like a prayer book. Deeply enmeshed in the Haitian community in Brooklyn, I followed the status quo, married, and had a son. I was living a life that alienated me from myself while daring to imagine a different blueprint. At thirty-two, I was divorced–a traumatic experience and event that would ultimately inspire me. I moved to Manhattan, returned to school to finish my degree, and began reconstructing the life I have always wanted. Because language often failed me, I sought other ways to relate to the world. I traveled and visited museums. I developed an eye and a critical understanding of art; I learned to see differently, globally, and intimately.
When I studied at the Art Students League, I found my own unique voice and began my painting practice. My training as a reference librarian influenced enormously how I view the world and, ultimately, translated to my research-based approach when making art. In painting, I give voice to elements about the world that I find intriguing, wondrous, and troubling. My experience as an immigrant and a long-time observer of American life is deeply woven into my paintings, allowing me to explore fully the hybridity of my many identities: Haitian, New Yorker, diaspora, traveler, observer, and Wayfinder.
Drawing from a deep sense of displacement and feelings of otherness, I wrangle meaning through observation and employ organic shapes, templates, text, and collages to reinterpret the world. My work emanates from inquiry utilizing fragments of my world: literature, social and political commentary, the news, walkabouts, overheard conversations, and daily observances. I infuse my paintings with texture using collages and other found objects to build a foundation. While experimenting with mark-making and text to establish a cohesive statement, I build layers of meaning. My color sense sometimes corresponds to memories of past things; when those are fragmented, they add a unique and mysterious element to the piece. The text is unrevealed because I’ve heeded my grandmother’s words: “Toutes les vérités ne sont pas bonnes à dire” (Not all truths should be told). Words are sometimes scratched, patched, erased, and muted. Words matter. Words hurt, heal, and when they are unspoken, they become more potent in their forced silence. Words bind the work to itself.
Through painting, I have expanded my use of language, thereby expanding myself. Some tensions feel resolved; some do not. My art is where I find my most complete self and where I leave space, texture, lines, words, and shapes that invite the viewer to find their reflection as well.
The Creative Process of Nadine Renazile
Discovering, understanding, and appreciating the work of Nadine Renazile is an engaging and seemingly never-ending journey into the depths of an artist with a dynamic, multi-faceted, and intellectual life. Nadine Renazile was born in Haiti and emigrated to the United States at the age of 14, and after decades of working as a librarian, discovered her love for art and painting.
In her first solo exhibition in our virtual gallery, Nadine shares with us the ideas and issues that are important to her as a woman of color and as an intellectual. Her works are a culmination of her travels, her love for literature and research, and her ideas about race and culture as an immigrant to the United States.
Through each situation, challenge, and era that marked her life, she gained insights through messages which she uses in her works, posing questions of their own in each of her compositions, expressing her ideas both through the careful and intentional use of color and texture and through line which she transforms into fundamental axes in each of her works.
Nadine expresses her ideas and her love for art on canvas and paper, employing her memories and her experiences as the primary elements. Her stories and messages are woven throughout her paintings, mysteries to unveil through these shapes, colors, lines, and words. Her works invite a dialogue and exchange of concepts using a visual language that allows us to observe and understand the messages, views, and concepts through her eyes.
Contact the gallery or the artist to inquire about available works