“Pretending was too much work”, as expressed by interdisciplinary artist Nyugen Smith, a hybrid of both Haitian and Trinidadian blood. He graced SQR Podcast with transparency as he delved into his upbringing in Trinidad; including his cultural adjustment after moving back to America during his most formative years, how art chose him, and the visual and physical influences he attributes toward embracing his own aesthetics. Coming from a broken family in Trinidad to attend a boarding school in Pennsylvania, he desperately tried to fit in. This even included trying to lose his innate accent.
Realizing it was easier to be himself, he eventually found acceptance in college via a group of Haitians- an ancestry he was far disconnected from (an emotion better heard and felt at the end of the podcast in his spoken word). Smith, a scholar with straight A’s and B’s as a Political Science major, had his schoolwork all mapped out; until he took two pivotal art classes to fill up his electives. Those two classes flipped his world upside down.
Art became his language. Soon after, he was invested in rapping, theater, painting and sculpture, and his evolution since has been anything but dull. From traveling to study art in Florence, Italy, to selling his art to college administrators and eventually hosting his own art show, Smith says it’s all about his support system. Without support from peers, friends, and family, he claims he would be nowhere.
His whole life story is wrapped into this podcast, as he leaves us with the biggest jewel on this episode: “For those who are struggling to find themselves, and to find that thing in life that makes you want to get up every day, I wish they find that thing because there’s nothing like it.” With his work currently on display at Perez Art Museum, and being part of The Other Side of Now: Foresight in Contemporary Caribbean Art, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Nuygen Smith. We hope you appreciate his narrative as much as we did. Enjoy.