The artist’s first solo museum exhibition presents selected works from throughout her 30-year career and explores the history of migration between the Caribbean and the United States, gender, race, and the representation of the female body.


Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art and Design presented the exhibition Juana Valdés: Embodied Memories, Ancestral Histories. For 30 years, Juana Valdés has transformed ideas, thoughts, and feelings into works of art anchored in stories, many of which are inspired by her personal experiences.


Embodied Memories, Ancestral Histories, Valdés’ first solo exhibition at a museum, encompasses many concepts and complexities. The story she tells unravels as the visitor moves through the galleries and becomes acquainted with three main topics that are not necessarily exclusive: “The History of Migration,” “Representation and Subjectivity,” and “Materiality.” Through many of the works featured in the exhibition, Valdés has generated a voice and a discourse inspired by themes such as colonization’s history and migration’s impact.

Another significant theme in Embodied Memories, Ancestral Histories, is the issue of gender and the representation of the feminine body. Through several works, Valdés invites the public to reflect on the objectification of the female body and the “whitening of race” as a legacy of colonialism. Race is a connecting thread that links the different sections of the exhibition, an issue that she addresses from her experience as a woman of color living in the United States.


Valdés’ choice of materials is as important as the themes she conveys. Working in a range of both traditional and non-traditional media—from ceramics, with all its associations of feminine and manual work, to new media—she communicates ideas of the personal and subjective while at the same time challenging the canon of art. Her audiovisual work highlights her entire oeuvre as an archive through which she analyzes and recodifies topics that include transnationalism, migration, race, gender, and discrimination at work, and the Latinx discourse she deals with from her experience as an Afro-Cuban woman residing in the United States.

Juana Valdés (b. Pinar del Rio, Cuba) is the recipient of the Ford and Mellon Foundations Latinx Artists Fellowship (2022), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2018), and The Hermitage Artist Retreat residency (2017-2020), among others. In 2022, the City of Miami Beach selected Valdés’ work shown at Art Basel Miami Beach for its 2022 Legacy Purchase Program acquisition. Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; El Museo del Barrio, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; Galerie Verein Berliner Künstler, Berlin; The Newark Museum of Art, New Jersey; Galerie Binnen, Amsterdam; and FreeSpace, Sydney.

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