Put the name Teresita Fernández in your permanent memory bank. She’s one of the rising stars of contemporary art who I feel experienced a breakout year in 2020. That’s when all the news around her first drew my attention.
Teresita Fernández: Elemental was her first major traveling exhibition and the first mid-career survey of works by Teresita Fernández who is considered one of the most innovative artists of her generation. The show was on view at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2020.
Co-organized with Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), which has a large installation of hers outside its entrance, the retrospective showcased more than 50 large-scale sculptures, installations, and mixed-media wall works created by Fernández over two decades, offering audiences the opportunity to experience her evocative creations that reinterpret the relationships between nature, history, and identity.
Based in New York, Fernández was born in Miami in 1968 to Cuban parents. She is renowned for her prominent public artworks and experiential sculptures, and through her practice, she explores perception and the psychology of looking, regularly manipulating light and space to create immersive, intimate, and unpredictable spaces. Using a range of materials, including silk, graphite, onyx, mirrors, glass, and charcoal, her minimalist yet substantive installations and sculptures often evoke landscapes, the elements, and various natural wonders, including meteor showers, cloud formations, and the night sky.
Her recent body of work contrasts the sublime nature of traditional landscapes with the current politically charged climate of the United States and addresses social issues such as the challenges of democracy.
Where to find Teresita Fernández across U.S.
Fernández has created site-specific commissions for such public spaces as Harvard College, Madison Square Park, and Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (North Adams, Mass.); Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (Fla.); and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Texas), among others. Her work is featured in various international public and private collections, including The Museum of Modern Art (N.Y.); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Mass.); Israel Museum (Tel Aviv, Israel); and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (Calif.).
She received the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003. In 2005, she was named the MacArthur Foundation Fellow for integrating architecture, color, and light into constructed, contemplative spaces.