Firelei Báez's monumental sculpture commission, To breathe full and free: a declaration, a re-visioning, a correction (19°36′16.9″N 72°13′07.0″W, 42° 21′48.762″ N 71°1′59.628″ W), is now on view at the ICA Watershed in Boston. The exhibition is organized by Eva Respini, the Barbara Lee Chief Curator, and is on view from July 3 through September 6, 2021.
In her largest sculptural installation to date, Báez reimagines the archeological ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace in Haiti as though they were revealed in East Boston after the sea receded from the Watershed floor. The Watershed’s location—in a working shipyard and as a trade site and point of entry and home for immigrants over decades—provides a pivotal point of reference. Báez embeds Sans-Souci within the geological layers of Boston, where histories of revolution and independence are integral to the city’s identity.
About the artist
Firelei Báez was born in 1981 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, to a Dominican mother and a father of Haitian descent. Her upbringing between Hispaniola’s two countries, which have a longstanding history of tension predicated on ethnic difference, informs her concerns with the politics of place and heritage. She currently lives and works in New York City.
Báez received a BFA from the Cooper Union’s School of Art before receiving her MFA from Hunter College in New York. She has had solo exhibitions at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; the Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando, FL; the Modern Window at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Pérez Art Museum Miami; and The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. Báez will participate in the 6th Ghetto Biennale (2019) and recently participated in the 10th Berlin Biennale (2018), Prospect.3 New Orleans (2014), Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial (2013), and the 6th Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American Biennial at El Museo del Barrio (2011). She is the recipient of many awards, including the Soros Arts Fellowship (2019), the United States Artists Fellowship (2019), the College Art Association Artist Award for Distinguished Body of Work (2018), the Future Generation Art Prize (2017), the Chiaro Award (2016), and Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (2011). The artist’s work is represented in important collections worldwide, including the Studio Museum in Harlem (New York), Kemper Art Museum (St. Louis), Pérez Art Museum Miami, New Orleans Museum of Art, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art (Atlanta), and the Salomon Foundation for Contemporary Art (France).
About the Watershed
On July 4, 2018 the ICA opened to the public its new ICA Watershed expanding artistic and educational programming on both sides of Boston Harbor—the Seaport and East Boston. Located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, the ICA Watershed transformed a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a vast and welcoming space to see and experience large-scale art. The Watershed builds upon the extraordinary momentum achieved by the museum since opening its visionary waterfront building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in 2006. Admission to the Watershed—central to the museum’s vision for art and civic life—is free for all.
About the ICA
Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and augmenting art’s role as educator, incubator, and convener for social engagement. Its innovative exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. Spanning two locations across Boston Harbor, the ICA offers year-round programming at its iconic building in Boston’s Seaport and seasonal programming (May-September) at the Watershed in an East Boston shipyard.