Firelei Báez

Chiaro Award, 2016

portrait of firelei bsez

Artist Statement

I make large scale, intricate works on paper that are intrinsically indebted to a rigorous studio practice. Through a convergence of interest in anthropology, science fiction, black female subjectivity, and women’s work, my art explores the humor and fantasy involved in self-making within diasporic societies, which have an ability to live with cultural ambiguities and use them to build psychological and even metaphysical defenses against cultural invasions.

While At Headlands

My residence at the Headlands was transformative both personally and as a practicing artist. While there I became aware of new ethics of artistic production and healthier ways of eating and thinking of the environment. These ideas started to crystalize while a resident and continue to inform my work to this day.
While at Headlands I would like to further develop my new bodies of work “Bloodlines” and “Patterns of Resistance”, which I showed recently at PAM and UMoCA. Tracing the history of social movements in the Unites States and the Caribbean, Bloodlines presents a series of new works inspired by lineages of black resistance. In large-scale works on paper and linen, I make connections that further our understanding of diasporic experiences by interweaving the lives of 18th century black women in Louisiana and the Cuban roots of the Latin American azabache, with symbols used in the U.S. during the tumultuous 1960s. Bloodlines showcases paintings and drawings specifically depicting textiles, hair designs, and body ornaments, linking traditionally loaded symbols with individual human gestures. This act of overlaying past and potential histories enriches obscured narratives of black experience and resistance, illustrating complex settings where skin tone is no longer sufficient signifiers of race.