Firelei Báez by Lia Clay. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York.
The narrative complexities of history, folklore, and personal experience collide in Dominican-American artist Firelei Báez’s energetically saturated paintings, sculptures, and installations. Afro-Caribbean women of the diaspora are the heroes of her intoxicating, symbol-laden works. The artist draws upon fiction and historical record in equal measure to reimagine the migration of these women across the globe, as well as the resilient and distinct communities that they helped build.
Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, director of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, co-curated the artist’s recent solo show at the museum. “The social value of her work resides, in large part, on the exploration of the Atlantic trade routes and related slave histories,” Hernández Chong Cuy explained. Báez’s work shortens “the cultural distance between Caribbean cultures and its expressions within North and Central America,” she continued.
Báez’s insightful and prescient work has quickly earned rapt audiences and institutional acclaim. In recognition of her work about migration, Báez was awarded a 2019 Soros Arts Fellowship. Furthermore, she was picked up by New York gallery James Cohan in October 2018 (Báez also shows with Kavi Gupta Gallery); was prominently featured in the 10th Berlin Biennale; and has had recent major solo exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati.