White Hawk commissioned to create art for the Whitney cafe

Dyani White Hawk working on Nourish.
photo by Kristen Torres Korman/Mercury Mosaics

The Whitney Museum of American Art has commissioned Dyani White Hawk and Rashid Johnson to create new artworks as it reboots two of its restaurant spaces, the New York Times reports.

White Hawk’s Nourish, to be installed in December in the museum’s eighth floor restaurant space, builds off of another Whitney commission, Wopila | Lineage, which she created for the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Nourish, too, positions Lakota abstraction front and center, part of White Hawk’s aim of reminding the world that abstraction, long practiced by Indigenous makers, predated work by European and American easel painters of the 1940s and 1950s. It features similar imagery, including hourglass forms that she notes “recognize a connectivity between land and sky, and the human and spiritual realms.” Like Wopila, Nourish will become part of the Whitney’s permanent collection.

But there are key differences: Nourish is White Hawk largest work yet—more than twice as wide as the 14-by-8-foot Wopila—and it’s her first work in ceramic tile, thanks to a collaboration with Minneapolis-based Mercury Mosaics. It’s also White Hawk’s first commission for a permanent installation in a museum.

Johnson’s commission, New Poetry, is being installed this month in the Whitney’s ground-floor cafe and is made up of black shelving holding plants, ceramic vessels, books, and monitors showing videos of the artist’s past works.