Teresita Fernández

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Teresita Fernández
Born1968 (age 55–56)
Miami, Florida, United States
EducationSouthwest Miami High School
Alma mater
AwardsMacArthur Genius Grant, Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts
Portrait of Teresita Fernández

Teresita Fernández (born 1968) is a New York-based visual artist best known for her public sculptures and unconventional use of materials. Her work is characterized by an interest in perception and the psychology of looking.[1] Her experiential, large-scale works are often inspired by landscape and natural phenomena as well as diverse historical and cultural references.[2] Her sculptures present spectacular optical illusions and evoke natural phenomena, land formations, and water in its infinite forms.[3]

She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2003), and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" (2005). She served as a presidential appointee to Barack Obama's U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, distinguishing her the first Latina to serve in that role.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Fernández was born in Miami, Florida to Cuban parents in exile. Her family left Cuba in July 1959, six months after the Cuban Revolution. As a child, she spent much of her time creating in the atelier of her great aunts and grandmother, all of whom had been trained as highly skilled couture seamstresses in Havana, Cuba.[5]

In 1986, Fernández graduated from Southwest Miami High School. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Florida International University in 1990, and a Masters of Fine Art from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1992.[6]


In 2009 the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin commissioned the large permanent work titled Stacked Waters that occupies the museum's Rapoport Atrium. Stacked Waters consists of 3,100 square feet of custom-cast acrylic that covers the walls in a striped pattern. The work's title alludes to artist Donald Judd's "stacked" sculptures—series of identical boxes installed vertically along wall surfaces—as well as to his sculptural explorations of box interiors. Fernández noticed how The Blanton's atrium functions like a box, and given its architectural nods to the arches of Roman baths and cisterns, she sought to fill its spatial volume with an illusion of water.[7]

Also in 2009, Fernández had a piece called "Starfield" made up of mirrored glass cubes on anodized aluminum in the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.[8]

In 2013, Fernández was featured in a contemporary art installation at Cornell Fine Arts Museum's Alfond Inn in Winter Park, FL. The work displayed was titled "Nocturnal (Cobalt Panorama)".[9][10]

On June 1, 2015, "Fata Morgana", her largest public art project to date opened in New York's Madison Square Park. The Madison Square Park Conservancy presented the outdoor sculpture consisting of 500 running feet of golden, mirror-polished discs that create canopies above the pathways around the park's central Oval Lawn.[11]

Seattle Cloud Cover (public commission, 2006)

In 2017, Fernández, in collaboration with Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, created a site-specific installation called "OVERLOOK: Teresita Fernández confronts Frederic Church at Olana" at Olana State Historic Site.[12][13] As part of the work, Fernández juxtaposes the works of landscape artists like Frederic Church, Marianne North, Martin Johnson Heade, among others, with images of indigenous people and their fellow travellers in order to examine and illustrate the context of the world that made up their images.[14]

Harvard University Committee on the Arts commissioned Autumn (... Nothing Personal) a public art project by Fernández in 2018.[15]

In 2019, the Pérez Art Museum Miami and Phoenix Art Museum, in Fernández home state of Florida, organized Teresita Fernández: Elemental the artist's first mid-career retrospective presenting artworks spanning the 1990s to the present. The exhibition featured sculptures, installations, and several other mixed media works to comment on social, geological, and political issues. The publication accompanying the show was published by PAMM with Phoenix Art Museum.[4]

In 2021, Fernández exhibited "Dark Earth" in the Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery at Georgetown University.[16] The exhibit featured a panoramic wall made out of charcoal with reflective panels.[16]

Advocacy for the arts[edit]

Fernández is well known for advocating for Latinx artists and in 2016 she partnered with the Ford Foundation to organize the U.S. Latinx Arts Futures Symposium, a landmark gathering of Latinx artists with museum directors, curators, scholars, educators, demographers, and funders from across the country to confront the omission of Latina, Latino, and Latinx artists from U.S. arts institutions.[17] Partnering with the Ford Foundation in 2016, Fernández helped found and create the U.S. Latinx Arts Futures Symposium.[18] The symposium was organized to create a dialogue on how to more broadly represent Latino art across the full spectrum of creative disciplines.[19] In her opening address for the U.S. Latinx Arts Futures Symposium, Fernández indicated that her the event was meant to create an intersection between "the powerful and the voiceless."[20]

Her work has created space in the artworld for Latina artists and her advocacy has cleared a path for emerging Latinx artists. One direct result of the U.S. Latinx Arts Futures Symposium's was the Whitney Museum of American Art hire of the museum's first curator specializing in Latinx art.[21]



  1. ^ Durón, Maximilíano (2016-09-20). "Study: Latino Art Underrepresented at College Art Association's Annual Conference". ARTnews. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  2. ^ Slenske, Michael (30 September 2013). "Teresita Fernández Artworks at Lehman Maupin, Hong Kong, and Mass MoCA". Architectural Digest.
  3. ^ Roffino, Sara (15 July 2014). "Teresita Fernández with Sara Roffino". The Brooklyn Rail.
  4. ^ a b Fernández, Teresita; Cruz, Amada; D'Souza, Aruna; Ortiz, Maria Elena; Rodney, Seph; Sirmans, Franklin; Spellberg, Metthew (2019). Teresita Fernández: Elemental. Pérez Art Museum Miami, Phoenix Art Museum. Munich London New York: DelMonico Books ; Prestel. ISBN 978-3-7913-5884-0.
  5. ^ Garcia, Patricia (23 September 2016). "Can Someone Mail a Copy of Nuevo New York to Donald Trump?". Vogue.
  6. ^ "Impact Volume 6". Issuu. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 2021-01-09.
  7. ^ Fernández, Teresita (11 August 2011). "Teresita Fernández, Stacked Waters" (Video). Blanton Museum of Art. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15.
  8. ^ Cheek, Lawrence W.; Daniels, Brett; Pagel, David (2010). Dallas Cowboys Art Collection: Art + Architecture at AT&T Stadium (PDF). Arlington, TX. p. 23. OCLC 657077503.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  9. ^ Lawrence Alfond, Barbara; Ross Goodman, Abigail; Heller, Ena (2013). Ross Goodman, Abigail (ed.). Art for Rollins: The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art. Volume I. Winter Park, FL: Cornell Fine Arts Museum. ISBN 978-0-979-22802-5. OCLC 903361166.
  10. ^ DiazCasas, Rafael (27 August 2013). "Close-Up: Nocturnal (Navigation) by Teresita Fernández". Cuban Art News.
  11. ^ Kino, Carol (31 March 2015). "Artist Teresita Fernández Transforms New York's Madison Square Park". The Wall Street Journal.
  12. ^ "OVERLOOK: Teresita Fernández confronts Frederic Church at Olana A collaboration with the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros". Olana NY State Historic Site. 14 May 2017.
  13. ^ Hasbrook, Melanie; Barrera Pieck, Mariana (22 February 2017). ""OVERLOOK" Exhibition at Olana Features a Groundbreaking Site-Specific Installation by Artist Teresita Fernández" (Press release).
  14. ^ Halperin, Julia (2 March 2017). "Teresita Fernandez wants to change the way you think about American landscapes". The Art Newspaper.
  15. ^ "Teresita Fernández: Autumn (…Nothing Personal)". autumnnothingpersonal.arts.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  16. ^ a b "New Page — Georgetown University Art Galleries". de la cruz. Retrieved 2024-03-15.
  17. ^ "The future of the arts is Latinx: Q&A with artist Teresita Fernandez". Ford Foundation. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  18. ^ "The future of the arts is Latinx: Q&A with artist Teresita Fernandez". Ford Foundation. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  19. ^ Durón, Maximilíano (2016-09-20). "Study: Latino Art Underrepresented at College Art Association's Annual Conference". ARTnews. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  20. ^ "U.S. Latinx Arts Futures Symposium - Teresita Fernández, Welcome Remarks - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15. Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  21. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (2018-04-24). "Museums Turn Their Focus to U.S. Artists of Latin Descent". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  22. ^ "Fellows in Visual Arts: Fernández, Teresita (1994-95)". CINTAS Foundation. 1994.
  23. ^ "MacArthur Fellows. Meet the Class of 2005: Teresita Fernández". MacArthur Foundation. 1 September 2005.
  24. ^ "Visionary Awards 2016: 35th Anniversary Gala". Art in General. 11 April 2016.
  25. ^ Harvard. "Teresita Fernández: Wayfinding | Harvard Art Museums". harvardartmuseums.org. Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  26. ^ "Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers: Report to the City of New York" (PDF). January 2018.
  27. ^ Greenberger, Alex (2017-04-26). "At the Drawing Center's 40th Anniversary Gala, Soggy Patrons Toast a Jet-Lagged Rashid Johnson, a Humbled Marcel Dzama". ARTnews.com. Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  28. ^ "Award recipients for the Meridian Cultural Diplomacy Awards". Culturefix. Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  29. ^ "Paradise Parados". BAM.org. Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  30. ^ "Aponte: An Opera". Creative Capital. Retrieved 2024-03-28.

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen S. Weiss (2001). Teresita Fernández (exhibition catalogue). Santa Fe, NM: SITE Santa Fe. ISBN 9780970077424
  • Marcella Beccaria (2001). Teresita Fernández (exhibition catalogue, in Italian and English). Rivoli, Italy: Castello di Rivoli. OCLC 52180953
  • Gregory Volk, David Norr, Amy Hauft, Elizabeth King (2008). Teresita Fernández (exhibition catalogue). Richmond, VA: Reynolds Gallery. OCLC 231141945.
  • David Louis Norr (editor) (2009). Teresita Fernández: Blind Landscape (exhibition catalogue). Zurich: JRP Ringier. ISBN 9783037640494.
  • Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Beverly Adams (2015). Fata Morgana (exhibition catalogue). New York, NY: Madison Square Park Conservancy. OCLC 945215456.
  • Denise Markonish (editor) (2017). Teresita Fernández: Wayfinding (exhibition catalogue). New York, NY: DelMonico Books/Prestel. ISBN 9783791356822.
  • Fernández, Teresita; Ortiz, María Elena; Cruz, Amada; D'Souza, Aruna; Rodney, Seph; Spellberg, Matthew; Sirmans, Franklin (2019). Teresita Fernández : elemental. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-3-7913-5884-0. OCLC 1124923916.