Interview with Sculptor Teresita Fernández, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York

Teresita Fernández’s seventh solo exhibition with Lehmann Maupin, New York, coinciding with her monumental sculptural installation Fata Morgana, currently installed in Madison Square Park in New York, showcases her newest sculptural works—intimate interior landscapes in concrete, cast bronze, and highly-detailed glazed ceramic. Best known for her unique installations and immersive public projects, Fernández explores ideas of the figure in the landscape, the natural world, the extremes of scale, as well as the act of looking. Fernández’s conceptually-based, research intensive process of art making often contains many layers of diverse cultural and historical references; she uses devices such as proportion and unconventional material to draw the viewer into her work, evoking an individualised experience of engagement that prompts questions of both place and way-finding. We speak with the artist.

A: How is the creative process different when working towards an exhibition as opposed to an installation?
I think of my work as being very site-specific. One of the first things I ask myself when starting any new work is, “Where am I?”  I ask myself that question of location politically, sensorially, historically, culturally, geographically, socially. My process usually consists of literally mining the site to give shape and content to that sense of place. I take that question very seriously. Not just looking at physical coordinates, but also at how a place exists in people’s imagination and in history.

A: Having worked with such a variety of materials, what is it about using malachite rocks that interests you?
I was fascinated by the saturated rich greens and turquoise colors in malachite and the way the natural clustered formations resembled aerial views of lush landscapes; how something on a small scale such as that mineral sample could suggest the vastness of places, maps, regions, and rainforests, all seen from above.

A: What becomes of the geographical and geological references when they are turned into art?
The sculptural materials in the show – concrete, bronze, ceramic – come from multiple landscapes. Using them together creates a metaphorical “stacked landscape” with multiple layers of references to place.  It’s as though one is always in more than one place simultaneously.

A: How do you translate evocative ideas surrounding the interior and exterior through such an abstract style?
I have always been interested in dark, subterranean spaces and have often used mined, underground materials to create works about light, landscape, and the cosmos, what’s below correlating somehow to what’s above. These extremes of light/dark, interior/exterior, above/below are constant themes within my work.

Teresita Fernández, until 31 December, Lehmann Maupin, 536 W 22nd Street, New York.

November 6 – December 31, 2015

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1. Teresita Fernández, Installation View, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.