A new major installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston is just the latest sign that artist and Hunter College alumna Firelei Báez (MFA ‘11) is making an indelible mark in the art world. Earlier this year, Báez won the prestigious Rome Prize in the “Visual Arts” category from the American Academy in Rome. Two months later, Báez was the recipient of an Artes Mundi 9 Prize, one of the most prestigious art prizes in the United Kingdom, for which she produced four major new works currently on exhibit at the National Museum in Cardiff, Wales. Critics and jurors for Artes Mundi described her paintings as “great, hectic, explosive things.”
Winner of the @AmAcademyRome Rome Prize AND the @ArtesMundi Prize, @Hunter_College alum Firelei Báez (MFA ‘11) is having a breakout year! Now her monumental sculpture “To breathe full and free” is on view @ICAinBOSTON’s Watershed. Congrats, @FIRELEI!https://t.co/vgpg0PeYPF
— President J. Raab (@HunterPresident) July 8, 2021
In her monumental installation at the ICA’s Watershed space, “the artist reimagines the archaeological ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace in Haiti as though they were revealed in East Boston after the sea receded from the Watershed floor,” according to the exhibit website.
Báez’s work—both her paintings and sculptures--are deeply rooted in history, notes Siddhartha Mitter in a recent New York Times feature on the artist and her installation at ICA Boston. “A massive mural brings the visitor into a swelling seascape in which a ciguapa decked in wild foliage seems to walk on the waves,” she writes. “Parts of an 18th-century map of the Atlantic seaboard are visible, with Boston Harbor in an inset.”