Nic[o] Brierre Aziz


Artist2Artist Fellowship


Up until the 8th grade, I was what one would consider an “exceptional student.” These years were spent in catholic schools, despite my mother working as a social worker in public schools, and I always found myself at the top of my class. I was even skipped to the fourth grade less than two months into my third grade tenure because of my exceptionality – but despite this prowess, when I began the 8th grade at what was at the time considered the “best” high school in New Orleans, there was a colossal shift. Suddenly, my joyous, curious and intelligent being was thrown into an environment that was extremely destructive to my self-identity. This all-male 95% white catholic space was a treacherous jungle for anyone who did not fit this homogeneously rigid mold – and my boldly black facial and cultural features along with my “weird” last name were as arguably as antithetical to this environment as one could get. My discomfort manifested itself in barely maintaining a 2.0 grade point average and often finding myself in detention (known as “Penance Hall”) for infractions such as unshined shoes and crooked nametags. This internal and external feud became so serious that I would often come home to my parents and contest my inferiority by telling them that they had to “accept that I was mediocre and stupid.” This mental affliction was so debilitating that my vehement contention was being done with a mother who was born in the first independent Black republic in the world and a father who was a former member of the Nation of Islam. Thankfully, one of the costliest natural disasters in world history liberated me from this mental captivity and changed my life for the better. I would go on to have numerous life experiences that prompted me to go inward and accept the beauty of my individuality. This is an exercise that is exceedingly difficult for any human on this perplexing planet – but especially for “minority” individuals in a country that was built upon (and continues to exist upon) the literal devaluation of their lives. These tribulations and their relationship to identity, truth and liberation have as a result become fundamental to my interdisciplinary practice. One of the often overlooked aspects of white barbarism (more broadly referred to as “white supremacy”) is the mental impact of erasure and marginalization. Personal and collective revolution has always and will continue to exist within the utilization of under discussed narratives to reimagine more righteous futures. I seek to create work from the dark matter that uplifts and heals, while exposing truths that enable us all to tread down a more collectively harmonious path of liberation.

Featured Image: Maroon, Mawòn (2 Sides II A Book), 2023. Diptych, collage. Image by Eric A. Waters. Courtesy of Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University.

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Tha Block Is Hot, 2020. As a part of the White Barbies series of works, Tha Block Is Hot is the second of a trilogy of video pieces within this series and specifically explores the relationships between Black "life," "objects" and "art." Courtesy of the Artist.

Strange Brute (Hanging From The Poplar Trees) II, 2022. Archival print of time-based performance. Courtesy of the artist.

Drive Slow Homie (Late Registration), 2023. Mixed-media. Image by Linda Reno. Courtesy of the artist.

My God Wears A Durag, 2022. Sculpture and video. Image by Linda Reno. Courtesy of the artist.
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