Teresita Fernández: As Above So Below
Opening Spring 2014
Inspired by natural phenomena and the landscape, as well as diverse historical and cultural references, New York-based artist Teresita Fernández will present an exhibition of new works entitled As Above So Below opening on May 24, 2014, at MASS MoCA. Demonstrating the artist’s remarkable ability to transform materials and the surrounding architecture into unique perceptual experiences, this exhibition is for the wandering viewer who will take in its sweeping vistas while also discovering its tiny landscapes.
Responding to MASS MoCA’s massive first-floor galleries, Fernández will create a series of dynamic, immersive, and interconnected installations whose scale continually shifts from intimate to vast, from miniature to panoramic. Describing a universe in balance, the phrase “as above, so below” originates from the ancient Hermetic tradition central to alchemy, where every action that occurs on one level of reality (physical,emotional, or mental) correlates to every other level. Fernández’s new landscape-
informed, large-scale installations embody this expression, and are united through the show’s exploration of two essential materials: gold and graphite.
At MASS MoCA, Fernández will create three new large-scale installations, the first of which will be seen upon entering the first-floor galleries. There visitors will encounter Epic, a site-specific reconfiguration of a work from 2009, which spreads across the walls like an organic swarm. In actuality, the work consists of over 40,000 small rocks of mined graphite. Emanating from each piece of graphite is a small, hand-drawn, graphite mark, almost like a cosmic trail. In its entirety, Epic functions as a constellation while, up close, the individual pieces and clusters become miniaturized landscapes of their own.
In the triple-height gallery, occupying more than half of the three-story 128 x 29-foot space, Black Sun, 2014, will evoke an amplified, glowing, suspended cloud cover when viewed from the ground, and vast landscape vistas when observed from above via two balconies. Slowly gradating in color from amber to solid black and composed of thousands of translucent tubes hung from the ceiling, this work creates a series of overlapping atmospheric planes, like a three-dimensional painting or a slowly moving cinematic dissolve, affected by the constantly changing light pouring in from the windows overhead.
The title of Fernández’s third installation, Lunar (Theater, 2014, which also takes advantage of MASS MoCA’s natural light, is inspired by the line "The sea is a a theater," written by poet Susan Howe and alludes to the cinematic and theatrical quality of looking at and being enclosed within the landscape. This experience is more akin to theater or cinema in which series of framed mental montages make up the whole. Fernández will fill a space more than 40x20-foot with a sea of small glass beads. The clear beads will sit on a highly reflective gold surface, which shines through at times, while, at others, the beads become opaque as they pile on top of one another. The result is like looking across a field, a vast shimmering landscape of swirling waters that becomes a mirror to the changing light from the windows above.
Alongside these sculptural interventions, Fernández will exhibit new large-scale drawings made with India ink on reflective chromed panels from her new series, Golden.
These works continue Fernández’s inquiries into materiality and mining, the connection between the cosmos and the subterranean, and traditional landscape painting and the cultural significance of gold. Like the rest of the exhibition, the Golden series plays with shifting scale, exhibiting panels as small as 7.5 x 9 inches alongside a large-
scale triptych titled Golden (Obsidian Sky), 2014, which measures 24 feet long. The pitch-black depth of the ink marks on top of the mirror-like surface explores painterly conventions of figure-in-the-landscape by superimposing the viewer's own distorted reflection into the image, making it appear and dissolve into the work.
The scenes throughout As Above So Below become like gestural film stills or unfolding cinematic panoramas, where scale constantly slips between near and far, immense and intimate, and where landscape transitions between solid and diffuse.
Teresita Fernández (b. 1968, Miami, Florida) is a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Artist’s grant winner, an American Academy in Rome Affiliated Fellow, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award recipient. In 2011, President Obama appointed Fernández to serve on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a federal panel that advises the President, Congress, and governmental agencies on national matters of design and aesthetics. Fernández’s large-scale commissions include site-specific works at Louis Vuitton locations in Shanghai and Paris, Amethyst Cinema at the Galerie Pfriem at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Blind Blue Landscape at the Bennese Art site in Naohima, Japan, and Seattle Cloud Cover for the Seattle Art Museum at the Olympic Sculpture. Fernández has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Modern Museum of Art, Fort Worth, TX; Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy; and The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. She received her M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and her B.F.A. from Florida International University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, and is represented by Lehmann Maupin Gallery.
A 96-page hardcover catalogue will accompany the exhibition, with an essay from the show’s curator, Denise Markonish, along with a new essay from New York-based author Eliot Weinberger.
This exhibition is supported by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Roberta & Michael Joseph, and Agnes Gund. Additional assistance with materials for the exhibition is provided by Glen Mills, Inc.