Kubiat Nnamdie is only 22 years old, but already he has a wisdom and résumé that outshines many fellow 20-somethings. He's an artist working freely in almost any medium; paint, sculpture, collage, and video, but he's about to show his hometown a new side of himself.
For his debut solo show, Nnamdie is proud to present "22 Grams: Set Me Free." He's shown all over the world, but revealing himself in the 305 is a proud moment he wouldn't trade for the world. It's a rebirth of sorts for the young artist, the beginning of a new chapter, and you can join him Saturday, June 15, at the Seminole Building in Wynwood for the big reveal.
"Innocence Had Its Day"
The title "22 Grams: Set Me Free" is a subtle reference to what happens when a person dies. Scientists note that the deceased's brain is flooded with DMT, a psychedelic some use recreationally that also occurs naturally during vaginal birth. Afterward, human bodies are found to weigh 21 grams less; some say this is because one's soul has left the building.
"It's in no way a drug reference, but I mean, I don't mind if people think it's a drug reference," Nnamdie said. "It's kind of about death and rebirth, but actually it's about rebirth. I'm referencing a few things. It might be a little somber but actually, it won't be really somber. But it's not going to be a happy show. It's going to be fun."
He may have a hard time pinpointing the mood, but Nnamdie doesn't really care. He knows people will interpret his work in different ways, just as he interprets the world through his own lens. As an artist, he's interested in occult systems and the way these spiritual matter affect our everyday lives. But he's not here to give a sermon.
"I think just the idea of someone passing or the idea of this spirit (is interesting)," he said, "the spirit of somebody, the spirit that can be in the painting or in a sculpture, or in your house, y'know? So it's more of a spiritual thing I suppose, but it's not overwhelming."
So, if the human soul is supposed to weigh 21 grams, what's with the numerical discrepancy? Nnamdie recently turned 22, and because he sees this debut solo show as a bit of a personal transformation and launching point, he figured, why not make it 22?
"It's kind of complex," he said. "It's a bit of magic, numerology, and spirituality, and the occiasional rebirth. It's not so much about death, I guess that sounds too heavy, but it is about a passing or being set free, and it's a positive thing."
But where does this obsession with spirituality come from, anyway?
"It's something that I found on my own," he said. "It took me a while, because I wasn't really looking inside, I was always looking outside of myself for many, many years. I finally took the time to look inside myself, actually stop looking out and start looking in."
Of course, Nnamdie's introspective turn in life has brought him great joy and creativity.
"It's pretty amazing to be able to have a place to say what you want to say, and that's what art brought to me," he said. "With art, I don't question myself, I just make."
He can't wait to share with Miami crowds his non-photographic works, a side of himself his hometown hasn't had much chance to see. The main piece in the show is a video, a clip he took of the ocean looking particularly fiery in the setting sun. He's also quite proud of a collage titled "Endless Search Since Birth," depicting retro nuclear families and ironic phrases such as, "it won't give you fresher breath," or, "it won't even give your dog a healthier, happier life."
"Most of the work is an internalized thing. I'm usually talking about things that happen to people or psychological things that happen," he said. "I make portraits talking about me talking about you talking about us."
"Endless Search Since Birth"
Besides the video and collages, there will be mixed media pieces, paintings, sculptures, and maybe a couple photographs, too. Though the work is varied, it's all tied together by the central concept of reawakening, rebirth and new life.
"All the pieces actually do have that feel of on the cusp of something, something being pushed," he said. "There's a push and pull."
In the end, Nnamdie doesn't see his exhibit as just a collection of art pieces or conversation starters. He imbues his work with his emotions, feelings, beliefs, and struggles, and he hopes those feelings ring true to the viewer and leave them with something they can benefit from in their own hearts and minds.
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"I'm not ashamed of someone calling me an artist or anything like that," he said, "but what I'm really doing is more so healing, and actually kind of talking about ways that people can heal themselves."
"22 Grams: Set Me Free" is on view one night only: Saturday, June 15, from 6 to 9 p.m. at ImageSound Americas, 120 NW 25th St., Suite 203, Miami. Visit the Facebook event page.