Nakazzi Tafari is an artist whose roots are entangled in Jamaica and Barbados. She has exhibited at The National Galleries of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Florida. Nakazzi’s work has also been shown in New York and Berlin. She is the featured artist at the newly constructed Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
As for me, Nakazzi, I am an artist, dancer, dreamer and lover of all things natural, organic, beautiful and wild. I am a seeker of knowledge. I choose materials for their metaphysical properties and evocative qualities and for the evidence of life I see in them. My choice to be an artist is more a shamanic journey guided by intuition and passion for truth and self-revealing. My work is an act of rebellion in contradiction to values that have been taught and are deeply ingrained in the collective psyche of my generation. Nature is my greatest inspiration and I create masks, sculptures, paintings as a form of cultural confrontation – shifting awareness of the viewer with their mere presence. Mine is a celebration of beauty, of otherness. of self, mirrored and reflected. Using the contemporary language of repetition, I have stamped my identity on the world stage and declared my existence to be valid, my viewpoint to be unapologetically black. I am always exploring layers of meaning and metaphors, examining issues of identity, race, sexuality, gender, and spirituality through the alchemy of transforming matter. I am also a scientist, a philosopher and a forager. Fascinated with textures and forms I select specific elements to compose into objects alluding to a magical reality behind the mask.
Both of my parents were artists, writers, political activist, with ideas ahead of their time. They gifted me with a most extraordinary childhood journey. My mother, Dawn Scott was one of Jamaica’s most loved and celebrated artists. She was notorious for her passion for life and mastery of many wide and varied interests. She carried me everywhere with her in a sling on her back in true African style. Her landmark installation “A Cultural Object” nicknamed “the Ghetto”, was a ground-breaking piece in the story of Jamaican art. In a time when the pristine walls of the National Gallery was sacred ground exclusive to Jamaica’s elite, her revolutionary statement broke down those social boundaries thus inviting people from all walks of life (most notably those from the inner city ghettos ) to attend the National Gallery for the first time, forever influencing and effecting social change in the Jamaican art scene – heightening the awareness of the plight of the destitute and the dispossessed who are overlooked and forgotten by society .
Some claim that I am her direct clone, but we are distinctly different in our outlook. She was so perfectly matched with my father it terms of heritage, intellect and vision they were a legendary couple in the turbulent political times of the seventies when the Rastafari movement was birthed. Ikael Tafari, born Micheal Hutchinson, a Barbadian by birth but also Jamaican by choice, came to the University of the West Indies early 1972, as a Barbados Scholar and together they were seminal members in the founding of the Rastafari movement. She ignited in him a passion for acting and they involved themselves is Roots theatre. He later returned with me to his childhood home in Barbados to pursue his doctorate in Philosophy and political science, rising eventually in political power to become the Commissioner of Pan African Affairs, the first Rastafarian to work in the Office of the Prime Minister and as a Cultural Ambassador to Africa. Theirs was quite a legacy and I have been blessed with the privilege of being honed by their razor-sharp intellect and challenged by their political viewpoints.
After completing my first degree in London, and after a year in New York, I took a leap of faith and returned to my birthplace Jamaica to the School of Art where I discovered my passion for sculpture quite unexpectedly. I am a world traveller and I continue to evolve daily, inspired by the idea of change.