Posted On: July 9, 2015
Dia de Reyes
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Madison Square Park
23rd Street and Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
On Saturday, July 18, 2015 from 12:00PM to 2:00PM, Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art hosted Dia de Reyes, a free, public Afro Cuban dance workshop and performance organized by Cuban-American artist Teresita Fernández, Cuban-born performer and scholar Yesenia Selier, and Global Rhythms, a cultural enterprise devoted to Cuban dance, music, and cultural education. Dia de Reyes (Three Kings’ Day) was conceived to travel seamlessly through the golden procession of Fernández’s Fata Morgana, the artist’s shimmering outdoor exhibition currently on view in Madison Square Park. The performance coincided with the annual July celebration of Carnaval de Santiago de Cuba, one of the largest carnivals in Cuba.
The program encouraged the types of group participation and active spectatorship that are integral to public life throughout the Caribbean and African diasporas. Fata Morgana, Fernández’s golden, mirrored canopy in Madison Square Park, likewise encourages an experience of art and public space in which viewers are always active, reminded of their own movement and the movement of the city by the work’s impressionistic, reflective ceiling.
“I’m delighted to work with Yesenia Selier and was especially interested in her unique perspectives as both scholar and performer,” Teresita Fernández said. “Her depth of research brings performances that are rigorously and authentically contextualized within history, religion, tradition and contemporary practice. Bringing Yesenia’s expertise into the setting of Fata Morgana was also an opportunity to amplify the shared identity and deep-rooted traditions that are key to understanding Cuban culture both on the island and in the Cuban diaspora. At a moment in time where it seems more crucial than ever to uphold principles of social justice, Yesenia’s historically-rooted Dia de Reyes celebration of freedom is a powerful way to reinforce the democratic spaces that public art can create.”
Combining celebratory carnival forms with other aesthetic and spiritual practices of the African and Cuban diasporas, Selier and over a dozen professional artists from the New York metropolitan area led six simultaneous afternoon music and dance workshops to prepare visitors for a group performance: a procession through Madison Square Park. Adults, children, and families were encouraged to join these six free, informal (15- to 30-minute) workshops.
“I have followed Teresita’s work for years and was particularly excited about the installation of Fata Morgana in the center of New York City,” Yesenia Selier said. “I was thrilled when she asked me to create a performance for Fata Morgana. Her work is fascinating and pierces the identity of the viewer. Fata Morgana’s mirror-texture creates a unique interplay between temporality, virtuality and reality. That’s the purpose of Dia de Reyes – a piece that breaks temporal and regional boundaries, inspired in Cuban Carnival origins. In colonial times, Dia de Reyes was the only day when Africans, free or enslaved, could publicly perform their dances and music. It was a day of racial, ethnic, and religious freedom. I envisioned this procession marching freely through Madison Square Park in New York at this decisive moment in time, when American society is updating the state of civil rights for marginalized populations. Dia de Reyes was a celebration of inclusion, identity, and pride, and an event that helped preserve the identities of people of African descent in the Americas.”
With both Fata Morgana and Dia de Reyes, Fernández wishes to address and increase visibility of Latino communities and cultures in New York City. As a daughter of Cuban emigrants, Fernández emphasizes Fata Morgana’s role in bringing prominence to Spanish-speaking publics in New York City. By encouraging an active experience of art in public space, Fernández hopes to expand our assumptions about who exactly constitutes “the public,” the makeup of which is as mutable and fluid as the reflections captured by her sculpture.
María Patricia Slee
Rafael Monteagudo (percussion)
Clemente Medina (percussion)
Miguelo Valdés (percussion)
Eudy Fernández (trumpet)
Yomaira García (lead singer)
TaDeo Asojano (Eleguá)
Hunter Houde (Shangó)
Yesenia Selier (Oshún)
Melvis Santa (Yemayá)
Pedro Domech (Obatalá)
Rumba Academy Students:
María Patricia Slee
About Yesenia Fernandez Selier:
A Cuban-born performer and researcher, Yesenia Fernandez Selier is currently a Media, Culture and Communication Ph.D. student at New York University. Selier is the recipient of fellowships from El Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO), CUNY Caribbean Exchange Program, Cuban Heritage Collection, and Save Latin America. Her work on Afro Cuban culture, encompassing dance, music, and race identity, has been published in Cuba, the United States, and Brazil. She produced the play Women Orishas for Miami Cuban Museum (2013) and Cuba en Clave for the New York Cuban Cultural Center (2014).
About Global Rhythms:
Global Rhythms is a cultural enterprise devoted to enriching people’s lives through dance, music, and cultural education. Founded in 2012 by Yesenia Selier and Hunter Houde, Global Rhythms provides cultural education, promoting a more diverse and tolerant society. With exciting dance performances, live Latin music shows, and interactive academic conferences, the Global Rhythms staff blends the talents of traditional artists, scholars, and award-winning entertainers to provide unforgettable experiences. Global Rhythms has conducted workshops and cultural presentations at a variety of venues, including El Museo del Barrio, Caribbean Cultural Center, Philadelphia Art Museum, New York University, Dartmouth College, Mary Washington University, Brooklyn Museum, and many more.
About Teresita Fernández:
Teresita Fernández (Cuban-American, b. 1968) is a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and the recipient of many prestigious awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Artist’s Grant, an American Academy in Rome Affiliated Fellowship, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award. Appointed by President Obama, Fernández served from 2011-2014 on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a federal panel that advises the President, Congress, and governmental agencies on national matters of design and aesthetics.
Fernández’s large-scale commissions include recent site-specific works at Louis Vuitton locations in Shanghai and Paris. Additional site-specific installations include Amethyst Cinema at the Galerie Pfriem at SCAD, France, and Blind Blue Landscape at the renowned Bennesee Art site in Naoshima, Japan. Fernández is the youngest artist commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum for Olympic Sculpture Park where her permanently installed work, Seattle Cloud Cover, allows visitors to walk under a covered skyway while viewing the city’s skyline through optically shifting multicolored glass. The artist recently closed an immersive, large-scale exhibition, As Above So Below, which was on view at MASS MoCA through April 5, 2015.
Fernández’s works are included in many prominent collections and have been exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; The Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth, TX; The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Spain; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Fernández is currently on the board of Artpace, a non-profit, international artist’s residency program. She received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and her BFA from Florida International University. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Major exhibition support for Fata Morgana is provided by Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco.
Substantial exhibition support for Fata Morgana is provided by the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation. Major support for Mad. Sq. Art is provided by The Charina Endowment Fund, Toby Devan Lewis, Pentagram Design, Sorgente Group of America, Thornton Tomasetti, Tiffany & Co., The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Anonymous. Substantial support is provided by The Buhl Foundation, Irving Harris Foundation, The Sol LeWitt Fund for Artist Work, The Henry Luce Foundation, Danny and Audrey Meyer, Ronald A. Pizzuti, and The Rudin Family. Ace Hotel New York is the Official Hotel Partner of Madison Square Park Conservancy.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mad. Sq. Art is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Mad. Sq. Art is supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Madison Square Park Conservancy is a public/private partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.