The Norton Museum of Art will host mixed media artist Nora Maité Nieves’ (b. 1980, Puerto Rico) first solo museum exhibition, “Clouds in the Expanded Field,” on view December 23, 2023 – April 28, 2024. The exhibition features her first exploration of video in Eyes of the Sea, a stop-motion animation that transforms the symbols, materials, patterns, and textures present in her painting and sculptural practice. In addition to the video work, this exhibition also features nearly 20 two-dimensional works, including nine works produced specifically for presentation at the Norton.
Nieves, an interdisciplinary artist, creates richly textured abstracted visual motifs of architectural elements through painting, sculpture, and now, video. The exhibition runs concurrently with her Mary Lucille Dauray Artist-in-Residence period at the Norton, from December 2023 through January 2024.
During her time as the Artist-in-Residence, Nieves is encouraged to focus on her artistic practice and engage with the Norton community through lectures, workshops, teen programming, and more.
“Her work is a dynamic reflection of the cultural influences that are so prevalent in South Florida, and Clouds in the Expanded Field gives us an opportunity to bring this internationally recognized artist to the Norton,” Ghislain d’Humiéres, Kenneth C. Griffin Director and CEO, said.
Nieves’ work contains textured and tactile surfaces on brightly colored canvases and often includes various media, including acrylic and modeling paste. There is an inherent and immediate physicality when viewing her work, which draws inspiration from the natural and built environments encountered in both Puerto Rico and New York City.
A central work to the exhibition, Eyes of The Sea, begins with one of her most common motifs: a concrete ornamentation block, colloquially known as a “Breeze Block.” When constructed as a wall, the blocks allow the wind to pass through and simultaneously provide visibility through to the other side – a symbolic nod to Nieves’ shift from the Caribbean.
“The blocks become eyes looking through a portal to the Caribbean Sea,” Nieves explains, “a way for me to look back at my home, Puerto Rico, and for home to look back at me.”
Nieves acts as a connector between worlds, combining fragments of decorative architectural elements from her Caribbean heritage—a ubiquitous modernist concrete breeze block design, or tile floor patterning from a past residence—with those from the urban landscape she encounters daily. Exploring these themes of identity and belonging—as well as the histories of places—Nieves comments on the sacredness of a single place within a complicated and evolving environment.
“I hope the exhibition will bring joy and captivate the visitors with a sense of belonging and freedom,” Nieves said. “Clouds are ephemeral and not bound by anything, they move freely without borders in the landscape.”
ABOUT NORA MAITÉ NIEVES
Nora Maité Nieves (b. 1980 San Juan, Puerto Rico) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010, and her BFA from La Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2004.
ABOUT THE NORTON’S ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PROGRAM
As part of the Norton’s campus masterplan, three residences on Cranesnest Way, running alongside the Museum’s sculpture garden on the south side of campus, were renovated and transformed into housing and a shared studio for up to two artists at a time.
Each artist (and their family) receives their own house during the residency. Another house features two open, flexible studio spaces for the artists to work in.
Past artists in residence at the Norton include María Berrío (2021), Addoley Dzegede (2020), Jessica Ingram (2021), Lavar Munroe (2020), and Jaye Rhee (2020).
The program began in January 2019 and demonstrates the Norton’s deep commitment to fostering creative and intellectual growth for mid- to late-career artists whose work warrants greater attention, and emphasizes the promotion of gender, racial, and ethnic parity in the arts through dedication of two residencies annually for women artists.
The Mary Lucille Dauray Artist-in-Residence, made possible through the support of the Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund/MLDauray Arts Initiative, is exclusively for an African American or Latina woman.