All Us Come Across Water, 2021. Wood, shells, ceramic shards, neon, video, and glazed stoneware, detail of installation.
Photo: David Dashiell, Courtesy the artist

Thinking Through Place: A Conversation with Anina Major

Anina Major connects to her familial lineage as she weaves clay vessels layer by layer. Through her Bahamian heritage, she investigates the uniqueness of being born and raised on an island where the economy and opportunities for upward mobility are directly tied to tourism. Her work lays bare locations as sites of inquiry for lived experience. Major has spent the majority of her life living in the United States, away from her native country, and her objects contend with migration, displacement, and the culture created by those forces. Her plaited and woven vessels underscore the basket-making techniques that she learned from her grandmother, who helped Major to discover her creativity.

Major incorporates both small and large ceramics, installation, and video into her practice centered
on nostalgia and identity. In “Ceramics in the Expanded Field,” a group exhibition at MASS MoCA on view through April 2023, she presents All Us Come Across Water (2021), a large-scale installation that speaks to the African diaspora and how the separation of people from their land impacts individuals and society at large. The installation, complete with a neon sign, a wooden dock, and three large pots, two of which resemble baskets, also includes a short video on Major’s process of making.

Folasade Ologundudu: Could you tell me about your origin story? Where did you grow up, and how have your early experiences impacted your work?
Anina Major:
I was born and raised in The Bahamas. My experiences there have impacted more than just my work—they’ve also impacted my philosophy and outlook on life . . .

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