Engage with imaginings of goddesses and historical peoples of African and Caribbean diasporas through the eyes of world-renowned artist, Firelei Báez. Witness as her blending of time and deep personal connections weave stories in paint of what it means to be a diverse people.

Orlando, FL — March 19, 2019

IMMERSION INTO COMPOUNDED TIME AND THE PAINTINGS OF FIRELEI BÁEZ presents a survey of paintings in a variety of media by internationally renowned artist, Firelei Báez on view June 7th – September 1st, 2019 at the Mennello Museum of American Art.  Báez’s practice investigates the visibility and the construction of complex cultural identities, especially for those within the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, and how notions of selfhood are constructed, perceived, displayed, and read in today’s global world. Her art converges at a beautiful demonstration of portraiture and intricate metaphors that give rise to powerful narratives of overlooked histories and obscured memories voiced for those in the present, merging geography, legend, and representation. Within the diverse cultural landscape of Florida, Báez’s work catalyzes and projects shared voices of multifaceted stories, symbols, and notions of beauty within the history of the diasporas, pre-colonialism to now, and individually, how that confluence of personal identity is reflected and felt in her own life.

Báez is known for her intricate paintings on paper, deaccessioned texts, canvas, and institutional walls, creating a space for the viewer to immerse their minds and memories to consider dialogues of past and present, story and text. The artist constructs figures, myths, and narratives into visual manifestations of cultures that have been shaped, and continue to be shaped, through the historic, forced diasporas within the Americas, employing symbols of lush, valuable lands and forgotten history. Báez’s work resists traditional notions and labels of geography and personhood, through depictions of marbled, flowing, and fiery individuality. The paintings and works on paper can be seen as a negotiation of self, strengthened through the female body and mythology of her being. Báez further blends time, generating a view of the modern experience of diverse peoples, women especially, embracing her past and staking her place in a universal future.

Curator Katherine Navarro states: “Firelei Báez’s paintings bring the viewer into a full-bodied experience of space and time that is enrapturing. One cannot help but engage with the printed landscapes or swirling portraits she creates, becoming absorbed in a space of unlimited potential knowledge. The artist’s complex and opulent practice generates expansive, overlapping identities and universes in the subjects she depicts and begs the viewer to contend with the past, present, and future of people throughout the Americas.”

The title of the exhibition refers to the artist’s work engaging imaginings of goddesses and historical peoples of the African and Caribbean diasporas in conversation with her and her viewer’s contemporary selves. Báez tends to work in a large and empowering heroic scale, not purely to suggest importance, but also to create a physical, enveloping space for voices that may be well-known to some but have fallen out of recollection for others. The artist imparts the viewer with information to look into and study the past, discovering how tales extolled, obscured, and evolved have shaped social knowledge and memory of those presently living. Her installations house viewers in materials of meaning, eliciting notions of ruin and construction, shaping of identity and one’s own story within what has been written of history.

Executive Director Shannon Fitzgerald states: “As we are constantly tasked with thinking about how we define art in American museums and strive for the broadest understanding of how we as a culture developed, I am delighted to welcome Firelei Báez’s powerful work and introduce her to our community. Her work is evocative and brings expansive ideas about the Caribbean and its diverse diaspora in the Americas through emotive and poetic expressions; I look forward to witnessing her resonance unfold with our growing audiences.”

Firelei Báez was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. She earned her BFA at The Cooper Union School of Art in 2004, participated in The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2008, and later earned her MFA at Hunter College in 2010. Báez currently lives and works in New York City. She has held residencies at The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace, The Lower East Side Print Shop and The Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace. Báez has had solo exhibitions at Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Pérez Art Museum Miami, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, among others. Báez was included in the 2018 Berlin Biennial, the United States Biennial Prospect.3, New Orleans, the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time’s LA>LA exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art, Los Angeles and at the 2017 Venice Biennale with the Pinchuk Art Foundation’s Future Generation’s Art Prize exhibition. Her work is in the collections of the BNY Mellon Art Collection, Pittsburgh, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Pérez Art Museum, Miami, Sindika Dokolo Foundation Collection, Luanda, Angola, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, and Tiroche DeLeon Collection, Jaffa, Israel. She is currently represented by Kavi Gupta, Chicago and James Cohan, New York.

IMMERSION INTO COMPOUNDED TIME AND THE PAINTINGS OF FIRELEI BÁEZ is curated by Katherine Navarro, Mennello Museum of American Art. A fully illustrated catalog with curatorial essay, and poem by Koleka Putuma will be produced on occurrence of the exhibition.

Please save the date for the opening reception of IMMERSION INTO COMPOUNDED TIME AND THE PAINTINGS OF FIRELEI BÁEZ.  The artist will be in attendance.

Opening Reception | Friday, June 7th, 2019

Members-only Preview | 5:30–6:30 PM

Public Reception | 6:30–8:00 PM

Free for members | $10 for Guest

Artist Talk and Book Signing | Saturday, June 8th | 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM


Hi-res Images: goo.gl/JcoR1S  

Firelei Báez, Study in blue (We have come to stir the other world, to cleanse ourselves, to connect our living to our dead here), 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago, Photography by John Lusis, photo editing by Jackie Furtado.

Firelei Báez, Collector of shouts (April 21), 2016. Courtesy of the artist, Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco, and Kavi Gupta, Chicago.

Firelei Báez, Displacing all reduction, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photography by Jackie Furtado.


Firelei Báez, I write love poems, too (The right to non-imperative clarities), 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago. Photography by John Lusis, photo editing by Jackie Furtado.

Firelei Báez, Years of holding your tongue, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago. Photography by John Lusis.


Firelei Báez, for Marie-Louise Coidavid, exiled, keeper of order, Anacona, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photography by John Lusis.

About the Museum
The Mennello Museum of American Art, owned and operated by the City of Orlando, is located on the beautiful shore of Lake Formosa in Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park. The museum provides residents and visitors welcoming opportunities to understand and value creativity through innovative experiences with art further connecting it to nature and communal gathering. Our goal is to encourage creative and diverse experiences with art that nurtures audiences while reflecting the dynamic relationship between art and society.  In addition to housing the permanent collection of folk modernist Earl Cunningham, the museum presents temporary exhibitions that feature a broad range of American art from traditional to contemporary practices.

On view through May 13, 2018:
The Unbridled Paintings of Lawrence H. Lebduska

View all of our upcoming events:  www.mennellomuseum.org/events

The Mennello Museum is located at 900 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803.

Website  ·  Facebook  · Instagram  ·  Twitter

The Mennello Museum of American Art and its exhibitions are generously supported by the City of Orlando and Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art. Additional funding is provided by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program and United Arts of Central Florida. Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Download this Press Release

Jeremy Kemp
Marketing & Graphic Design Coordinator
The Mennello Museum of American Art and Public Art, City of Orlando