Every two years, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) awards an artist the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting. The prize includes $15,000 and exposure to UMOCA.
This year’s Doctorow Award winner is FireleiBaez, whose show Patterns of Resistance explores the historical lineage of political iconography, such as the iconic Black Power fist, commonly associated with the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. Baez exemplifies symbols of history, especially in social movements, in colorful patterns. His hope is that viewers will be drawn enough to the beauty of his paintings to question the meaning of the images in his work.
“At the end of the day, it would be great if these conversations started and someone saw something and made connections between them. It’s an ideal thing for me as an artist… My main interest is to generate conversation, not to preach,” Baez said.
Baez’s multicultural background and experiences living in the United States and the Dominican Republic give him a unique perspective on history and allow him to make connections between different cultures.
“I was born in the Dominican Republic and I’m of both Haitian and Dominican descent… It’s a very mountainous island. The landscape, in terms of the mountains, reminded me of Utah. (He) all these spectacular mountains, but it’s also very lush,” Baez said.
His exhibition at UMOCA in Salt Lake City is FireleiBaez’s first solo exhibition in a museum. Patterns of Resistance will be viewable until January 16.