Jeffrey Nowlin

MFA ’19 Fine Arts 3D

A sister piece to Are You Black, Shield functions as a mask, a protective barrier. It is a grotesque face to conceal the sensitive and vulnerable person behind it. I made this piece to examine and visualize the feeling of entering spaces constructed by racial whiteness. For me, this means special access and the pressures to perform and defend one’s personhood as a racially ambiguous individual. The work represents the ingrained repercussions of incremental stress stemming from biases, judgements, and questions of belonging. The weight in one’s gut as they pass through instances of suspicion, categorization, and to exist in the gray of racial identity is a heavy thing. One that is difficult to explain, but easily sensed. It sticks with you like a pebble in your shoe, a sore in your mouth, or a splinter in the finger. Shield is a progression in my practice, in which I am incorporating carving, weaving, and assemblage processes together for a richer, more vigorous approach to creating work.

Jeffrey Nowlin is fiber artist and sculptor whose work investigates the social systems which impact daily life. He creates sculptures using fibers, assemblage, weaving, and carving to discuss topics like illness, trauma, race, and queerness. Nowlin works in Boston as a teacher of foundation studio art and art education. He graduated with an MFA in 3D arts from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2019 and a BFA in Sculpture from Boston University in 2010.