Raúl de Nieves: and imagine you are here


In the second presentation of The Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission, multimedia artist, performer, and musician Raúl de Nieves invites visitors to explore the wonder, beauty, and chaos of the natural world through the themes of emerging and becoming.

Born in 1983 in Michoacan, Mexico, and based in Brooklyn, de Nieves learned traditional Latin American sewing and beadwork in school and alongside family members, and uses those approaches in his work, which pays tribute to his family, his homeland, and Mexican folk art. He also accumulates and adorns every surface of his sculptural figures—both human and animal—to create fantastical creatures immersed in deeply narrative environments, imbued with both Catholic imagery and Mexican folklore motifs. The embellished figures also refer to another central tenet of de Nieves’ aesthetic: self-expression within queer club culture, such as the glitter and glitz of drag pageants.

This fall, De Nieves will transform the East Lobby into a lighthearted experience of fun, dazzle, and wonder. His central installation piece will consist of a 27-pane faux stained-glass window showcasing moments of wild transformation and symbolic significance. Brood X cicadas, monarch butterflies, and a crested caracara falcon—which came to the artist in a dream—will be some of the transformational creatures depicted by de Nieves.

Above the stairwell, de Nieves will suspend a multi-tiered chandelier depicting a human figure within a cocoon. The cocoon serves as a space for waiting, patience, and anticipation. Bead-encrusted figures will be seated on lobby benches, eager for direct connection with visitors. Lastly, the artist will also create a faux stained-glass lightbox installation continuing the theme of the larger window for the face of the East Lobby visitor services desk.

You are welcome to sit next to and gently touch the colorful sculptures in the East Lobby.


This exhibition is organized by Leila Grothe, BMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art with Meyerhoff-Becker Curatorial Fellow Cynthia Hodge-Thorne. 

Raúl de Nieves: and imagine you are here is generously supported by the Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission.