'This past year has been huge for me," Nikesha Breeze says. "Not just with the lockdowns and relative home isolation.
Breeze is the mother of two teenage sons, one of whom just won a national scholarship competition and was awarded a full-ride four-year all-inclusive scholarship to the University of Chicago, but with all the uprisings around the world for Black Lives Matter and social justice, both of which I've been deeply engaged with."
And needless to say, both of which deeply impact and inform the art and performance pieces for which she has become known.
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Breeze has lived and worked in the high desert of Taos for the last 20-odd years. "I am an American-born descendant of the Mende people of Sierra Leone, and Assyrian immigrants from Iran," she explains. "My work investigates the interrelational and resilience of the black and queer body in relationship to power, vulnerability, the sacred, and the ancestral."
Using ritual in process, and gifted with acute attention to detail, love of craft and material, Breeze digs deeper for inspiration. "Working from a Global African Diasporic, Afro-Centric and Afro-Futurist perspective" she explains, "I reimagine the possibility of healing intergenerational traumatic inheritance through the intersection of art, ritual and remembrance."
The artist further notes, "I identify as black, queer, intersex, non-binary and a mother, and I create spaces where Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Earth bodies can be seen as undeniably sacred and inviolable."
Breeze keeps her work centered on Black bodies simultaneously existing within realms of past, present and future. Using performance art, film, painting, textiles, sculpture and site-specific engagement to build a counter-narrative of an "Otherwise," a realm of indivisibility between Black artistic aesthetic, Black time and ritual-spiritual healing.
"My methodologies call upon ancestral memory and archival resurrection to surface faces, bodies, stories and spirits that have been systematically erased from the master narrative," Breeze says.
Her inclusion last year in the Harwood Museum's juried show of "Contemporary Art in Taos," sealed her reputation as an artist of substance working in Taos, which remains the artist's base, while continuing to work and collaborate with artists and institutions further afield.
Together with two other Black New Mexican artists, Breeze created a nonprofit - Earth Seed Black Arts Alliance - which has successfully worked with New Mexico public schools to create a new Black History curriculum.
Breeze's recent collaboration with two other artists, resulted in an epic outdoor performance piece exploring the "shapes of tectonic Blackness in nature."
Breeze says that much of 2020 was spent developing and nurturing relationships with museums and institutions around the country, while also creating a large part of a new body of work.
The artist plans a large show this summer, while setting future sights on a large, site-specific installation representing the recurring themes that elevate her work, and our consciousness - healing, reclamation and reparation.
" My work engages in the invisible world, along with artists such as Betye Saar, Allison Saar, Nick Cave and Anselm Kiefer. Artists who I see as working on the edges of ritual, time and history.
"I reimagine Black pasts as they become re-informed by Black futures, and present the resulting present as a living altar and artifact. My practice reimagines relationships with land, inhuman life and the invisible world In the face of the idea that there is 'no return.' We stand here as bodies carrying the voices of our histories on our backs, our faces shining towards new horizons, the tools of our liberation in our hands. We are being drunk by our ancestors and we are feeding all of our future life."
Breeze is philosophic looking to the future, as yet unknown, as she continues to explore the inner and outer realms of existential and non-linear timelines of truth: "All of my work seeks to engage the viewer in a relationship of the soul, a personal act of witnessing and being witnessed. It's a form of loving. Of returning. Of shaping. Of reclaiming and remembering. In my art, which is my life, I want to touch the world, as I am touched. Wound touching wound."
See more of Nikesha Breeze and the work 'they' make at nikeshabreeze.com.