The artist Teresita Fernández, once a Southwest Miami Senior High kid hanging out at Frankie’s Pizza after school, has come a long way. That said, she’s perfectly at ease in a circumstance—namely having her installation launch the Salon de Louis Vuitton at Bal Harbour Shops as a benefit for The Wolfsonian-FIU—that is the polar opposite of her upbringing.
“After high school, I went to Florida International University for my BFA. They were very encouraging and gave me a fine education,” she says. “I don’t know if my success was because of or in spite of the public school system, but I’m self-motivated and focused, and I know that if you work hard, good things happen.” Since college, many good things have happened—exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and Washington, DC’s Corcoran Gallery, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship (known as the “Genius Grant”)—with the Vuitton alliance being the newest glittering prize: The company has worked with everyone from Frank Gehry, who’s doing its new museum in Paris, to Chris Ofili, Anish Kapoor and David LaChapelle.
The installation at Bal Harbour incorporated nine original pieces from her Nocturnal series, which was on view last year at her New York gallery, Lehmann Maupin. Made of graphite, the pieces are a rumination on the mining landscape of Borrowdale, England. Fernández also has a permanent installation, Hothouse (Blue), at the Louis Vuitton Union Square Maison store in San Francisco.
The company will be rolling out more hoopla for Art Basel Miami Beach, of course, with Fernández’s work on view at the Lehmann Maupin booth, aside from another project she’s completing.
Now residing in Brooklyn—the epicenter of a certain kind of American intelligentsia—Fernández is juggling kids and an array of commitments. She has a solo show at Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco and has done major installations at Cowboys Stadium in Texas and the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. And, of course, there’s always Miami. “I come down here all the time, bring the kids and have them visit their grandparents. This is such an amazing time in Miami. Anywhere you are, it’s possible to make good art, but there’s a great community of young artists here now. We can support them and still have Basel; one thing isn’t the opposite of the other. And Miami is still so beautiful. Sometimes I come down and I’m like, Why do I live in Brooklyn?”