Teresita Fernández (b. 1968, Miami, FL, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) is best known for her prominent public installations and experiential large-scale sculptures that evoke striking landscapes. Her work, often inspired by natural wonders—meteor showers, the aurora borealis, cloud formations, fire, and the night sky—invites an individualised experience of the work and the space it occupies. Fernández places particular importance in her choice of medium, playing with the limitations of materials and employing those such as gold, graphite, and other minerals that have complicated histories often tied to colonialism. All of her work, from her immersive installations to her small graphite panels, is characterised by an interest in perception and the psychology of looking. In 2015, Fernández installed her largest public art project to date, Fata Morgana, in New York’s Madison Square Park. The work was composed of six mirrored canopies suspended above the park’s central lawn, and its title refers to the visible yet illusory line that hovers right above the horizon. In using metal to achieve the effect of a natural floating apparition, Fernández challenges the inherent characteristics of the material.Read More
For her 2017 exhibition at Lehmann Maupin New York, titled, Fire (America), Fernández presented a 16-foot glazed ceramic panel depicting a nocturnal image of fire, a series of burned, laser-cut landscapes on paper, and a site-specific installation that resembled a horizon line composed of charred lump charcoal applied directly to the gallery walls. In these works, Fernandéz references the 'slash-and-burn' technique used by Native Americans to create land for farming through the deliberate burning of forests, a process that essentially designed the American landscape. Using the universal image of fire as her motif, and the scorched residue of wood as her medium, Fernández contemplates the environmental and social history of America.
Fernández received a BFA from Florida International University, Miami, in 1990 and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, in 1992. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organised at Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, NY (2017); Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA (2014); Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL (2011); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX (2011); Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, OH (2011); USF Contemporary Art Museum, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (2009); and Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2005). She has produced a number of site-specific commissions including Double Glass River, Grace Farms, New Canaan, CT (2015); Fata Morgana, Madison Square Park, New York (2015); Golden (Panorama), Aspen Art Museum, CO (2014); Nocturnal (Navigation), United States Coast Guard, Washington, DC (2013); Stacked Waters, Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin, TX (2009); Starfield, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX (2009); Blind Blue Landscape, Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan (2009); and Seattle Cloud Cover, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA (2006). Select group exhibitions featuring her work include Visionary Aponte: Art and Black Freedom, Little Haiti Cultural Center, Miami (2017); Beyond the Horizon: Contemporary Landscape, Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington, NC (2017); Cuban Forever Revisited, Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH; A Material Legacy: The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection of Contemporary Art, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ (2016); Cuban America: An Empire State of Mind, Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, NY (2014); Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, Smithsonian Art Museum, Washington, DC (2013–2014); and Pattern: Follow The Rules, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI; traveled to Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, CO (2013). Fernández’s work is featured in numerous international public and private collections, including Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.
In 2017, Fernández was elected to be a National Academician by the National Academy Museum & School, New York. She was the 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a number of rewards including the Aspen Award for Art in 2013, the 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award in 1999. Appointed by President Obama, she was the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a 100-year-old federal panel that advises the president and Congress on national matters of design and aesthetics.
Text courtesy Lehmann Maupin.