Firelei Báez was born in Santiago de los Caballeros and lives and works in New York. She makes intricate works on paper and canvas that are intrinsically indebted to a rigorous studio practice as well as large scale sculpture. Through a convergence of interest in anthropology, science fiction, black female subjectivity and women’s work, her art explores the humor and fantasy involved in self-making within diasporic societies, which have an ability to live with cultural ambiguities and use them to build psychological and even metaphysical defenses against cultural invasions.
Báez received an M.F.A. from Hunter College and a B.F.A. from The Cooper Union’s School of Art and studied at The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has had solo exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and at Pérez Art Museum Miami. In 2016 and 2017 she will participate in group and solo museum exhibitions including at the Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University, Chareston, Illinois, Africa Forecast: Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, Georgia, and at The Warhol Museum, Pittsburg.
She has held residencies at The Headlands, The Joan Mitchell Center, The Fine Arts Work Center, The Lower East Side Print Shop, and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace. Baez’s work has been written about in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Art in America, New American Paintings, The Huffington Post, Studio Museum Magazine and is featured in the Phaidon contemporary drawing anthology Vitamin D2. Her work has been exhibited by the New Museum, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the New Orleans Biennial Prospect.3, Taller Puertorriqueño, Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, The Drawing Center, the Bronx Museum and The Studio Museum. Her work was featured in the United States Biennial Prospect.3 in New Orleans, curated by Franklin Sirmans.
She has been the recipient of the prestigious Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Award in Painting, the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting, and the Chiaro Award from the Headlands. In 2015 The Pérez Art Miami Museum published Firelei Báez: Bloodlines, with an introduction by the museum’s Director, Franklin Sirmans, an essay by Assistant Curator María Elena Ortiz, an interview with Naima Keith and a contribution by writer Roxane Gay.