BMA debuts Raúl de Nieves: and 'imagine you are here' Meyerhoff-Becker Biennial Commission

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BMA debuts Raúl de Nieves: and 'imagine you are here' Meyerhoff-Becker Biennial Commission
Installation view of Raul de Nieves: and imagine you are here at the Baltimore Museum of Art, November 2023. Photo by Mitro Hood.

BALTIMORE, MD.- On November 19, the Baltimore Museum of Art debuted Raúl de Nieves: and imagine you are here, an exuberant installation by the Mexican-American multimedia artist, performer, and musician that celebrates the beauty, wonder, and power of the natural world. Created especially for the BMA’s East Lobby—a primary entrance and gathering space—as part of the museum’s second Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission, and imagine you are here reflects de Nieves’ interest in connecting with audiences through universally accessible themes and inspirations. At the heart of the installation are de Nieves’ large-scale, kaleidoscopic faux stained-glass window and flamboyant hybrid figures that capture many aspects of metamorphosis in the natural world from form to gender. The fantastical works bathe the two-level lobby in brilliant color and light and invite visitor engagement through their distinct materiality. Raúl de Nieves: and imagine you are here is on view November 19, 2023, through May 4, 2025.

“Raúl de Nieves’ transfixing installation for the Meyerhoff-Becker Biennial Commission has transformed the BMA’s lobby into an environment that will elicit wonder and awe from our visitors,” said Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “The East Lobby is often where our audiences begin their BMA journey, making it an essential place of connection. We are thrilled to offer our community another opportunity to experience a visionary artist in this space with work that is joyful, inviting, and sure to spark conversation and engagement.”

De Nieves uses readily available craft materials like beads, tape, colored film, and feathers to evoke the beautiful, vulnerable, and sometimes curious moments of transformation. No Need For Vistas We Are Seen (2023) is a 27-pane faux stained-glass window that centers an image of a Crested Caracara falcon that visited the artist in a dream alongside a jumble of molting cicadas and Monarch butterflies whose migratory patterns move fluidly between the United States and Mexico. It is accompanied by A Beautiful Nightmare (2023), a colorful chandelier featuring a beaded organism suspended and waiting within a cocoon; and three beaded, feathered, and adorned hybrid human/creature figures. Two opulently decorated figurative sculptures are placed throughout the first floor of the lobby, inviting visitors to sit and engage with them on colorful benches. A swarm of 999 clear resin flies containing colorful beads and strands of the artist’s hair hovers on the walls overhead incorporating aspects of the grotesque amongst the overwhelming beauty of nature.

This installation marks the second presentation of the Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission, which was established in 2018 to foster the creation of new works by international contemporary artists, cultivate aspiring curators from underrepresented backgrounds through a parallel fellowship, and activate the BMA’s two-floor East Lobby with publicly accessible art.

This exhibition is curated by Leila Grothe, BMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art with support from former Meyerhoff-Becker Curatorial Fellow Cynthia Hodge-Thorne.

Raúl de Nieves (b. 1983, Morelia, Mexico) is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist, performer, and musician who draws on both classical Catholic and Mexican vernacular motifs as well as aspects of queer and gender identity to create his own unique mythology. Through processes of accumulation and adornment, the artist transforms readily available materials into spectacular objects, which he then integrates into immersive narrative environments. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at ICA Boston, MA; Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, FL; and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA. De Nieves’ work has also been featured in group exhibitions at The Highline, MoMA PS1, 2017 Whitney Biennial, Documenta 14, Performa 13, ICA Philadelphia, The Watermill Center, and other venues. Public collections with de Nieves’ work include Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. This fall, he also debuts Raúl de Nieves: a window to the see, a spirit star chiming in the wind of wonder… at the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.

Baltimore philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker are committed to reshaping the city’s institutions around access and inclusivity in education and art. They are supporters of Teach for America, Thread, and the Baltimore School for the Arts. They were founding donors of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program. They initiated the Diversity and Inclusion Fund at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University to build access and diversity in faculty, staff, and student body. They seeded the Books for Me program at the Enoch Pratt Free Library to enable families to grow a personal library of free new books for their children.

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