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Baltimore Museum of Art Selects Raul de Nieves as Second Meyerhoff-Becker Artist for East Lobby Commission

Raúl de Nieves. Communidades Visibiles: The Materiality of Migration installation at Albright-Knox Northland (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery, New York.

BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has named Raúl de Nieves (b. 1983, Michoacán, Mexico) as the second artist to receive the Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission. The commission 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. De Nieves is a multimedia artist, performer, and musician who often creates joyful, interactive installations that investigate notions of beauty and transformation. His new work for the BMA will engage with ideas of metamorphosis in the natural world through a 27-pane faux stained-glass window, a multi-tiered chandelier, light box installations, and opulently decorated figurative sculptures. Together, these vibrant works will immerse audiences in de Nieves’ distinctive visual language, which draws on Mexican craft traditions, costumes and adornment, religious iconography, mythology, and folktales. The installation will be on view November 19, 2023, through May 2025.

“As the first named public art commission for a U.S. museum, the Meyerhoff-Becker Biennial Commission supports the BMA’s vision to engage our community with the work of pathbreaking artists and to offer points of creative connection across our public spaces,” said Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “During Mickalene Thomas: A Moment’s Pleasure—the inaugural commission—we saw firsthand how her redesign of the East Lobby captivated audiences and transformed the space into a place of gathering. We are delighted to now have the opportunity to present Raúl de Nieves’ evocative work, which embraces a range of artistic and cultural traditions and speaks powerfully to the experience of change.”

De Nieves’ installation for the BMA will transform the East Lobby with dazzling new and existing works inspired by themes of emergence and becoming. The central component is a 27-pane faux stained-glass window inspired by the wonder, beauty, and chaos of the natural world. The large-scale work will evoke the migratory patterns of Monarch butterflies across the United States and Mexico, a Crested Caracara falcon who came to the artist in a dream, and Brood X (or Great Eastern Brood) cicadas, among other symbolic imagery that reflects wild transformation. This vibrant work will be presented in dialogue with a multi-tiered chandelier suspended from the ceiling that depicts a beaded figure encased in a cocoon, awaiting its future flight. Lavishly adorned bead-encrusted seated figures designed for direct visitor interaction will also be placed on benches on both levels of the East Lobby. Additionally, the artist will create faux stained-glass lightbox installations that continue the theme of the larger window for the front of the East Lobby visitor services desk. This vivid, awe-inspiring space will be further activated through community events.

Raúl de Nieves
Raúl de Nieves (b. 1983, Michoacán, 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 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.

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