23 July 2023
15 July 2023
02 July 2023
"I started early - Took my dog -
Firelei Baez was born in 1981 in the Dominican Republic and her family moved to Miami when Firelei was eight. She studied art at Hunter College and Cooper Union in New York City where she now lives in the Bronx.
Baez traces descent from Haiti and Dominica, two countries that share the island of Hispaniola. Haiti, on the western side was colonized by France while the Dominican Republic was controlled by Spain so there is no single narrative that encompasses these two very different variants of colonization. (Think of the contrast between the neighboring states of Georgia and Florida, the one settled by the British and the other colonized by the Spanish). The cultivation of indigo was key to the economic development of Haiti; tobacco and sugar were also extremely significant exports. The process to turn the plant into a dye was developed in West Africa, a history that Baez knows by heart. For her, the underwater world is blue, indigo blue.
Image: Firelei Baez - Haitian Mermaid - Describing the West Indian Navigation from Hudson's Bay to the Amazonas, 2023, oil and acrylic on archival printed canvas, 73 7/8 x 60 7/8 in., James Conan Gallery, NYC.