For viewers who encounter it taking up nearly an entire wall at the Barnes Foundation, Nari Ward’s “Iron Heavens” is a striking, faintly disturbing piece that suggests the threat of violence against a dark night sky. For Ward’s children, though, it was just another embarrassing thing that dad did.
“That was the bane of my kids’ existence,” laughed Ward during an interview in his new career-spanning exhibition, “Sun Splashed,” which opens at the Barnes this weekend. In keeping with the found-object origins of much of his work, Ward constructed a haunting night sky out of dozens of oven pans. “We’d be driving down the street and I’d pull the car over and jump out. They were always embarrassed, like ‘This is what it’s come to — my father is raiding ovens.’”