Latinx Artist Fellowship

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Joel Gaitan


Miami, FL

Instagram @nicanahuac

In my work, I delve deeply into themes of identity and spiritual exploration. Raised in the Pentecostal faith, I continue to integrate spiritual elements into my creative process, infusing my own perspective on taboos, identity, and environments. Drawing inspiration from Nicaragua’s rich history and traditions, I blend ancient practices with contemporary narratives, molding new stories through clay and installations. My choice of raw, unglazed clay stems from resource limitations, yet it has led me to appreciate the diverse hues and textures that emerge from each piece.

While celebrating life, death, and the afterlife, Joel Gaitan’s work studies matters of self-identity, sexuality, and ancestral lineage. From forgotten tongues to erased cultures, he explores traditional hand-building clay techniques, keeping a sacred tradition from Nicaragua and Central America alive in a colonized world. Raised within Pentecostalism, Joel still carries the music, verses, and The Holy Spirit with his own interpretation. He highlights Nicaragüense lifestyle and aesthetics with ceramics and other mediums depicting portraits, utilizing elements of poetry, colors, and storytelling. Each work is an offering to the ancestors; those who have been encountered, and those who have not.

Joel was born in 1995 in Miami, FL. Solo exhibitions include KDR, Miami, FL; 56 Henry Gallery, New York, NY; Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX; and NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Selected group exhibitions are Pace Gallery, Palm Beach, FL; The Pit, Los Angeles, CA; Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, CA. He was an artist in residence at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France 2023. He was 2023’s Art Production Fund Artist in Focus for the public art program at Rockefeller Center, NY. He was also featured in CLAY POP, a book by Alia Dahl. Museum and public collections include The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; The Bunker, Palm Beach, FL; El Museo Del Barrio, New York, NY and The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL. He lives and works in Miami, FL.

Selected Works

A terracotta figure has two faces emerging from a rounded torso and body with gold toenails and nipples. The figure wears heavy gold earrings and its hair is styled in gold coils that point upright.
A terracotta form resembling an amphora features a face with a gold nose ring and teeth. Blue forms flow from two gold semi-circles positioned balanced on the figure’s head.
Five terracotta ceramic forms with human features and ornamented with gold leaf stand on pedestals resembling stepped pyramids painted in turquoise and orange.