Latinx Artist Fellowship

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Juana Valdés

Multidisciplinary artist

Miami, FL and New York, NY

Juana Valdés

Instagram @jvaldesart

I create works that range from large-scale public installations, prints, and photographs to delicate bone china questing relationships between aesthetics and materiality. As a result, my work mines racial and ethnic stereotypes, the colonial powers that produced them, and their continued impact on cultural memory. This approach places me in dialogue with contemporary artists who reconstitute discarded histories, reexamine the imagined past, and explore the Black experience and African ancestral inheritance. 

My work centers the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color relative to cultural artifacts to locate the social-political discourse within material culture. This strategy fundamentally challenges conceptual art practices, which transforms the everyday object into art while erasing its history and labor under the guise of artistic genius. By investigating the history of mass migration and exile, I map how the ancestry of Black, Asian, and Brown populations is linked with colonial economies of trade and maritime travel. At its core, my artworks elicit migration and exile as a complex process, constructing the identity of the diasporic community through the transnational experience as it reimagines new forms of representation for BIPOC communities in America. 

Juana Valdés (she/her) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice combines art media to explore issues of race, transnationalism, gender, labor, and class in the Global South. Recent solo exhibitions included Rest Ashore at Locust Projects (2020) and Terrestrial Bodies at Cuban Legacy Gallery, MDC Special Collections (2019) in Miami, FL. 

Current group shows include #Fail, Contemporary Art Center, LA; Polyphonic: Celebrating PAMM’s Fund for African American Art, Miami, FL; In Absence/Presence: Latinx and Latin American Artists in Dialogue, Another Space, NY; R.A.W.: Craft, Commodity, and Capitalism, Craft Contemporary, CA; Round 49: Penumbras: Sacred Geometries at Project Row Houses, Houston, TX; and Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA for the Museum of Latin American Art, CA.

Her work has been included in group exhibitions at national and international venues including, Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, Perez Art Museum Miami, Site Santa Fe Siteline2016, El Museo del Barrio, P.S. 1 MOMA Contemporary Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, The Newark Museum of Art, NJ, Galerie Verein Berliner Künstler (Berlin), Galerie Binnen (Amsterdam), and FreeSpace (Sydney). Grants and Fellowships include Anonymous Was A Woman, The Joan Mitchel Foundation Grant in Sculpture, Ellies Creator Award, The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Netherland-American Foundation Cultural Grant, the National Association of Latinos Arts and Culture, Visual Artists Grant, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant.

Juana Valdés was born in Cuba and came to the US in 1971. She grew up in Miami and currently resides between Miami, New York, and Amherst where she is an Associate Professor of Printmaking in the Department of Art at University of Massachusetts.

Selected Works

Wooden pallets are stacked in rows in front of a screen projecting footage of ocean waves.
An installation shot of a gallery shows shelves with mass-produced collectibles displayed on them with cyanotypes and maps hung nearby.
Colored China Rags (2017) creates formal analogies between rags, used by cleaning women, with the suppleness of a woman’s body, and the range of skin tones that exist in ethnically mixed communities. The work resulted from adding a series of powder skin tone pigments to the clay prior to firing the casts, thereby manipulating the chemical composition of the clay body and changing its form. The intention of these artworks is to question the mythology of whiteness as pure relative to the history of bone china and notions of Mestizaje in the Caribbean.