Nekisha Durrett’s large-scale artworks grant a monumentality and visibility to oft-overlooked subjects of Washington, DC. Durrett has received numerous project grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and her work can be found around the city, including in the US Botanic Garden, West End Library, and Arlington Arts Center. She is currently working on a permanent installation in the newly renovated Martin Luther King, Jr. library.
Durrett’s commitment to granting visibility to previously unnoticed subjects coincides with the theme of WE BUILT THIS HOUSE, which seeks to widen viewers’ understanding of the reality of life in DC apart from its role as the United States’ center of government. While politics often get all the buzz, Durrett insists on revealing the truths of the city, including its groundbreaking go-go music scene as can be seen in Go-Go Belongs Here, a monumental work that greets viewers entering the exhibition. The work hangs on the back wall and takes up almost every inch, as if commanding everyone to stop and acknowledge the words long muted by gentrification which pushed out much of the DC community to whom the music belonged. Created collaboratively with community members, Go-Go Belongs Here proudly proclaims the existence and survival of DC’s official sound, a title that was fought for by its residents.
- Natalie Duke (VCU Art History, BA 2022)
Nekisha Durrett currently lives and works in Washington, DC where she creates bold and playful large scale installations and public art that aim to make the ordinary enchanting and awe inspiring while summoning subject matter that is often underrepresented or overlooked in visual culture. She earned her BFA at The Cooper Union in New York City and her MFA from The University of Michigan School of Art and Design as a Horace H. Rackham Fellow. Durrett has exhibited her work throughout the Washington, DC area and nationally. She is currently a finalist in the National Portrait Gallery’s prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and is featured in The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today exhibition. Recent installations include: Up ‘til Now, a freestanding, solar powered sculpture that evokes the history of Washington, DC’s landscape and architecture, in Washington’s Golden Triangle neighborhood; Messages for the City in collaboration with For Freedoms in Times Square, New York; a wall-mounted public sculpture in the Liberty City community of Miami, Florida made in collaboration with conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas; and a permanent installation on the glass-walled vestibule in the newly renovated Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Washington, DC. Magnolia, a recent series of leaves perforated with the names of women murdered by law enforcement, is currently on view (as of Spring 2021) in her solo exhibition at Cody Gallery at Marymount University and the Atlanta Biennial at Atlanta Contemporary in February. Durrett is currently in production on a large-scale, permanent sculpture in Arlington, VA.