Rest Ashore is a new multi-channel video project by Miami-based LatinX multi-disciplinary artist Juana Valdes that reexamines the Cuban and Haitian migration experience and how it relates to the current global refugee crisis, particularly Syria. The installation explores the similarities in how the past and the current refugee crisis are documented and disseminated in mass media while creating a new visual vernacular honoring those who died at sea in their travels. Rest Ashore is Valdes's first significant expansion into video and a dramatic shift in her artistic process.
While this project differs significantly from Valdes's past work, it continues her thematic explorations of the sea, ocean, rivers, and "bodies of water," which have always played a significant role in her practice and shifted the way in which she perceives and reimagines the Caribbean. While using the Cuban-America rafters "Balseros" experience as a starting point, Rest Ashore's goal is to address the current refugee crisis worldwide, particularly those refugees who died at sea in their journeys. The project pushes past the conventional beliefs of what it means to be a refugee and questions how these experiences are chronicled in the media and recorded in our memories.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Juana Valdes uses printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramics, and site-specific installations, to explore issues of race, transnationalism, gender, labor, and class. Functioning as an archive, Valdes’s work analyzes and decodes experiences of migration as a person of Afro Caribbean heritage.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Terrestrial Bodies, Cuban Legacy Gallery, Miami Dade College Special Collections, Freedom Tower (2019-2020); An Inherent View of the World, Mindy Solomon Gallery, Miami (2017); From Island to Ocean: Caribbean and Pacific Dialogues, Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University, NJ (2015), and Remnants-What Remains, Thomas Hunter Project Space, Hunter College, CUNY (2014).
Her exhibition An Inherent View of the World was acquired in full by the Pérez Art Museum, Miami and will be featured in the upcoming exhibition, Polyphonic: Celebrating PAMM’s Fund for African American Art from February 7 – August 9, 2020.
Recent group exhibitions include: Queer + Peculiar Craft, showcasing recent work by an international group of artists, designers and makers working with ceramics and textiles, The Clemente Abrazo Interno Gallery, NYC (2019-2020); GROUNDED, Spinello Projects, Miami (2019); RAW: Craft, Commodity, and Capitalism, Craft Contemporary, LA (2019); Building a Feminist Archive: Cuban Women Photographers in the US, Pompano Beach Cultural Art Center, FL (2019); Round 49: Penumbras: Sacred Geometries at Project Row Houses, Houston (2019); Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, Museum of Latin American Art, presented as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, Long Beach, CA (2017) traveled to: Wallach Gallery at the Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University and Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, NYC; and the Delaware Art Museum (2018).
Her work has also been included in group exhibitions in such museums and university galleries such as: Site Santa Fe, Perez Art Museum, El Museo del Barrio, NYC; P.S. 1 MOMA, NYC; MOCA, North Miami; Galerie Verein Berliner Künstler, Berlin; the Mason Gross Galleries at Rutgers University, NJ; Newark Museum, NJ; Galerie Binnen, Amsterdam; and FreeSpace, Sydney.
Grants, Awards and Fellowships include: Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2018), The Ellies Creator Award (2018); The Netherland-American Foundation Cultural Grant, (2011); New York Foundation for the Arts, Sculpture/Craft (2011); the National Association of Latinos Arts and Culture Visual Artists Grant (2009); and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (1998).
Born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Valdes came to the United States in 1971. She received her BFA in Sculpture from the Parsons School of Design (1991), her MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts (1993) and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (1995). She is currently an Associate Professor in the Art Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is represented in Miami by Spinello Projects.
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