Teresita Fernández's Nocturnal (Horizon Line), installed in the third floor galleries of American Art, strikes the viewer for both its beauty and its weight, as this piece is made of mined graphite. But in the artist's hands, the dense mineral becomes a canvas, and her work blooms into an homage to the beauty and mystery of evening, much the same as James McNeill Whistler's tonalist works and ethereal Nocturnes of the late 19th century, examined the beauty and poetry of twilight and the hours that followed.
Fernández kicked off the 2013 season of the Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures in American Art series by talking about her work, her process, and her engagement with the material world. Born in Miami but now living in Brooklyn, Fernández works in many media, including glass beads, fabric, silk thread, and marble dust to create artworks and installations that are often immersive, and according to the artist, "sensorial."
Fernández began the night by telling us about her artistic process and what goes into making a work of art, from discovery ("how points of connection start to create meaning") to execution. This behind-the-scenes look into her work was accompanied by images of selected projects, including those inspired by empty swimming pools, seventeenth-century formal European gardens, and Japanese garden techniques. Her works often play on the themes of visualization and perception, and the relationship between the artist and the person looking at the art. Alchemical in nature, her works transform the ordinary into engaging and provocative experiences that resonate. "I think that the best works of art are the ones that haunt us a little, linger, and stay with us when they are no longer in front of our eyes," Fernández added.
Fernández's Nocturne (Horizon Line) will be included in the upcoming exhibition, Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art opening on October 25.
View the webcast of Teresita Fernández's talk. And join us on October 30 for the next lecture in the series when critic Richard Lacayo delivers his talk, Hurry Up Please, It's Time: Artists in Their Later Years.