Firelei Báez

born Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican
Republic, lives in New York

Firelei Báez, an American artist of Haitian and Dominican descent based in New York, is known for her large-scale paintings and immersive installations, like the one here. Báez’s work ties together subject matter mined from a wide breadth of diasporic narratives, or stories that evolve and travel like people across the globe. In doing so, Báez positions her work in critical conversation with the history of Western art, seen elsewhere in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

This installation is part of an ongoing series in which the artist reimagines the archeological ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace in northern Haiti, underscoring its position as an enduring symbol of healing and resistance. The work’s painted surfaces are adorned with reproductions of traditional West African indigo printing (later used in the American South) and marine plants native to Caribbean waters. In this work, the ruins of the San-Souci Palace appear to travel through both time and place to burst through the gallery’s floor, dripping with brightly colored sea life and the pieces of modern urban waste that now carpet our ocean floors.

The Cleveland Museum of Art

Firelei Báez, The vast ocean of all possibilities (19°36'16.9"N 72°13'07.0"W, 41°30'32.3"N 81°36'41.7"W), Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, with support from The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation and James Cohan, New York, produced in partnership with The Cleveland Museum of Art.

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