I am an interdisciplinary artist working across performance, video, installation, collage, and social engagement. Through a hybrid of mediums, I tell overlooked stories that center Black bodies in positions of power and vulnerability. As a research based artist, my work is informed by written and oral archives, dialogical art, and somatic practices. My work interrogates complex histories of institutionalized and systemic oppression, and asks how it informs our personal experiences and interpersonal relationships.
I often use my own body as a medium in my practice, as well as the bodies of participants or collaborators in my community. I am interested in how documentation and relics preserve live art in the absence of the artist, expanding the lifespan of the work beyond ephemeral moments and becoming art unto themselves. As an Ethiopian-American, my work draws upon traditional African art sensibilities, where visual art and ritual often intersect, and art objects are infused with an experience or aesthetic that can layer their meaning.
The subject of my interdisciplinary projects have ranged from critiquing the bias in art historical cannons that perpetuate myths of Western male exceptionalism; advocating for the overlooked labor of BIPOC women activists; redefining notions of citizenship as it relates to forced (im)migration; and more. In our trying political climate, where Black lives are continuing to fight to matter, and women are courageously calling out sexual violence, my work seeks to reconcile with the complex contradictions of what it means to be an American.
Helina Metaferia is an interdisciplinary artist working across collage, assemblage, video, performance, and social engagement. Her work integrates archives, somatic studies, and dialogical practices, creating overlooked narratives that amplify BIPOC/femme bodies.
Metaferia received her MFA from Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Recent solo exhibitions include Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA (2022); New York University's The Gallatin Galleries, New York, NY (2021); Michigan State University's Scene Metrospace Gallery, East Lansing, MI (2019); and Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA (2017). Metaferia will present her work at the 2023 Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates, and the 2023 Tennessee Triennial through the Frist Art Museum and Frisk University Art Gallery. Her work is in the permanent collection of institutions including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; RISD Art Museum, Providence, RI; and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY.
Metaferia’s work has been supported by several residencies including MacDowell, Yaddo, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and MASS MoCA. She is currently a 2021-2023 artist-in-residence at Silver Art Projects at the World Trade Center in New York City. Her work has been written about in publications including The New York Times, Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Artnet News, and Hyperallergic. Metaferia is an Assistant Professor at Brown University in the Visual Art department, and lives and works in New York City.