To mark the closing of Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales, Public Art Fund has invited artists Teresita Fernández and Cecilia Vicuña for a conversation reflecting on Herrera’s career through their own lives and celebrated art practices. Sharing a Cuban-American heritage with Herrera, Fernández is a conceptual artist well-known for her monumental – and often immersive – public projects. Her works feature abstracted, sculptural forms that amplify ideas about nature and landscape to reveal more subtle historic, cultural, and socio-political narratives tied to place. Vicuña’s art and life have been shaped by exile from her native Chile and the unrest experienced there. Her work powerfully responds to the most pressing issues of our era with a poetic ephemerality that is underpinned by diverse political, ecological, and religious concerns. Distinct in their approaches, the practices of both artists interweave experimentation of form, scale, and materials with incisive narratives about culture, history, and power dynamics. This cross-generational dialogue will be moderated by Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer.
Estructuras Monumentales is the first major exhibition of outdoor sculptures by New York-based artist Carmen Herrera (b. 1915, Havana, Cuba) and is on view July 11 – November 8 at City Hall Park. The artist has created vibrant, abstract paintings for more than 70 years, but has only recently received well-deserved art historical recognition. Informed by her architectural training, Herrera began her Estructuras series in the 1960s with a group of diagrammatic sketches. She envisioned large-scale monochromatic sculptures that would extend the experience of her luminous paintings into three dimensions. Until recently, these historic proposals have remained unrealized. With Estructuras Monumentales, this remarkable artist is now able to share her powerful structures with public audiences for the first time.
Teresita Fernández is a conceptual artist best known for her monumental, public projects that expand on notions of landscape and place. Based in New York, her work, often inspired by natural phenomena—meteor showers, fire, and the night sky—invites experiential engagement with the work and the space it occupies.
Cecilia Vicuña is a poet, artist and activist. She lives and works in New York and Santiago, and integrates practices of performance, Conceptualism, and textile in response to pressing concerns of the modern world, including ecological destruction, human rights, and cultural homogenization.
The Cooper Union
The Frederick P. Rose Auditorium
About the speakers
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, fire, and the night sky—invites experiential engagement with the work and the space it occupies. Fernández places particular importance on her choice of materials 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.
Fernández is a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a number of awards including the Aspen Award for Art in 2013, a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award in 1999. Appointed by President Obama, she was the first Latina to serve on the US Commission of Fine Arts, a 100-year-old federal panel that advises the president and Congress on national matters of design and aesthetics. Her upcoming mid-career museum retrospective, Teresita Fernández: Elemental, is currently on view at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Surveying over 20 years of work, the exhibition will travel to the Phoenix Art Museum followed by the New Orleans Museum of Art. Fernández’s public art project, Paradise Parados, will be installed on the rooftop of the BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, NY, in 2020.
Fernández’s recent site-specific commissions include 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); Stacked Waters, Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin, TX (2009); Blind Blue Landscape, Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan (2009); and Seattle Cloud Cover, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA (2006).
In 2001, Fernández worked with the Public Art Fund to realize Bamboo Cinema, a large-scale, maze-like installation made of colored, translucent polycarbonate tubes in Madison Square Park, New York City.
Cecilia Vicuña (b. 1948 in Santiago, Chile; is a poet, artist and activist. She lives and works in New York and Santiago) integrates practices of performance, Conceptualism, and textile in response to pressing concerns of the modern world, including ecological destruction, human rights, and cultural homogenization. Born and raised in Santiago, she was exiled during the early 1970s after the violent military coup against President Salvador Allende. This sense of impermanence, and a desire to preserve and pay tribute to the indigenous history and culture of Chile, have characterized her work throughout her career.
Vicuña received her MFA from the National School of Fine Arts, University of Chile in 1971 and continued with postgraduate studies at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London from 1972-1973. Her retrospective exhibition SeeHearing The Enlightened Failure is currently on view at the Witte de With in Rotterdam, and will travel to several museums in Latin America. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at the Brooklyn Museum, NY (2018); the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2018); Lehmann Maupin Gallery, NY (2018); Neubauer Collegium, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2018); Her survey exhibition About To Happen was organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, (2017), and has travelled to the the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2018), ICA Philadelphia, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle and will conclude at MOCA, North Miami, 2019.; Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago, Chile (2014); Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile (2014); FRAC Lorraine, Metz, France (2013); Institute for Women and Art, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (2009); The Drawing Center, New York (2002); and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO (2002). Group exhibitions and biennials featuring her work include Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017) traveling to the Brooklyn Museum, NY (2018); Documenta 14, Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany (2017);, 18th Sydney Biennale, Australia (2012); WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1997); among others. Her work is in numerous international private and public collections, such as The MoMA in New York, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Tate in London. Vicuña is the author of 25 poetry and art books published in the U.S. Europe and Latin America. Her most recent titles are: Slow Down Fast, A Toda Raja, in conversation with Camila Marambio, Berlin,2019, New & Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuña, Kelsey Street Press, 2018, and About to Happen, Siglio Press 2017., She received the Herb Alpert Award, 2018, and the United States Artists Award, 2018 She also co-founded Oysi, an educational resource dedicated to indigenous oral culture, and serves on the faculty at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York.
About the Talks
Public Art Fund Talks, organized in collaboration with The Cooper Union, connect compelling contemporary artists to a broad public by establishing a dialogue about artistic practices and public art. The Talks series feature internationally renowned artists who offer insights into artmaking and its personal, social, and cultural contexts. The core values of creative expression and democratic access to culture and learning shared by both Public Art Fund and The Cooper Union are embodied in this ongoing collaboration. In the spirit of accessibility to the broadest and most diverse public, the Talks are offered free of charge.
Public Art Fund Talks are presented in partnership with The Cooper Union