Teresita Fernández (b. 1968, Miami, FL, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) is a conceptual artist best known for her monumental public projects that expand on notions of landscape and place. Her work, often inspired by natural phenomena—meteor showers, the aurora borealis, cloud formations, fire, and the night sky—invites experiential engagement with the work and the space it occupies. Fernández places particular importance on her choice of medium, playing with the limitations of materials and employing those such as gold, graphite, and other minerals that have loaded histories often tied to colonialism, history, land, and power. Her work is characterized by a quiet unraveling of place, visibility, and erasure that prompts an intimate experience for individual viewers. 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 overhead, mirrored canopies above all of the park’s walkways, and its title refers to mirages that hover right above the horizon.
Teresita Fernández's museum retrospective, Teresita Fernández: Elemental, will tour throughout the United States and survey over 20 years of work, from the beginning of her career to the present day. The exhibition explores the way in which Fernández's practice has engaged in the dematerialization of landscape into its fundamental elements of light, space, darkness, and matter. The exhibition also showcases the artist’s most recent bodies of work, in which she contrasts the sublime nature of traditional landscapes with the current politically charged climate of the United States. The retrospective Teresita Fernández: Elemental opened in fall 2019 at the Pérez Art Museum Miami and will travel to the Phoenix Art Museum from March 21–May 24, 2020.
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 organized at the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ (2020); Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami Florida (2019); Harvard University, Boston, MA (2018); Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, NY (2017); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, 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); University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, FL (2009); and Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2005). She has produced a number of site- specific commissions including Night Writing, Park Tower at Transbay, San Francisco, CA (2019); Vînales (Mayombe Mississippi), New Orleans Museum of Art, Sculpture Garden, New Orleans, LA (2019); Island Universe, Ford Foundation, New York, NY (2019); Autumn (...Nothing Personal), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2018); 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, D.C. (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 Bright Golden Haze, Oklahoma Contemporary, Oklahoma City, OK (2020, forthcoming); Waking Dream, Ruby City, San Antonio, TX (2019); Documenting Change: Our Climate (Past, Present, Future), Colorado University Art Museum, Boulder, CO (2019); 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, D.C. (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; Bloomberg Family Foundation, New York, NY; Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisernos, New York, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL; Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
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 awards, 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.