Every two years, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) awards an artist with the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting. The prize includes $15,000 and an exhibition at UMOCA.
This year’s Doctorow Prize winner is Firelei Baez, whose show Patterns of Resistance explores historical lineage of political iconography, such as the iconic Black Power fist, typically associated with the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. Baez illustrates symbols from history, particularly in social movements, in colorful patterns. Her hope is that viewers will be attracted to the beauty of her paintings enough to wonder about the meaning of the images in her work.
“Ultimately it’d be great if those conversations get started and if someone sees something and makes connections between them. That’s an ideal thing for me as an artist…My main interest is to generate a conversation, not to preach,” said Baez.
Baez’s multicultural background and experiences from living in both the United States and Dominican Republic gives her a unique perspective on history, and allows her to make connections between different cultures.
“I was born in the Dominican Republic, and I am of both Haitian and Dominican descent…It’s a very mountainous island. The landscape, in terms of mountains, reminded me of Utah. (It) has all these spectacular mountains, but it’s also very lush,” said Baez.
Her show at UMOCA in Salt Lake City is Firelei Baez’s first museum solo exhibition. Patterns of Resistance will be on view through January 16.