(b. 1981, Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic; lives and works in the Bronx, New York)
On rest and resistance, Because we love you (to all those stolen from among us), 2020. Oil and acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York.
This work is in reference to the 70,000 black women and girls in the United States currently missing. Who continue to be unnamed and uncared for, even though this should be a national crisis. The figure in this painting is inspired by an archival image of civil rights activist Freedom Riders sleeping in church pews taken by photographer Paul Schutzer circa 1961. It is a particularly tender inter-generational scene of women resting and supporting each other. In this place of respite, I center the transformative actions that can show ways beyond the spaces in our culture where care, love and beauty are not naturally and equitably given.
Firelei Báez is a participant in Art on the Grid, a citywide, open-air exhibition presented by Public Art Fund. Conceived in the spring of 2020, the exhibition features 50 artists’ reflections on the converging crises of the coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism in our country.