Raúl de Nieves Is an American Artist (USA, 7 min)
Directed by: Ian Forster
From his basement studio in Ridgewood, Queens, acclaimed artist Raúl de Nieves creates an epic stained glass mural for the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Born in Mexico, de Nieves immigrated to San Diego at the age of nine and has been living in New York since 2008. “Growing up in Mexico was really magical because I got to see a lot of forms of celebration,” says the artist. “I got to experience death as a really young child. That’s what my work is about: it’s like seeing the facets of happiness and sadness all in one place.” His commission from the Whitney Museum of American Art gave de Nieves the opportunity to experiment with the tradition of stained glass, and combine this new light-infused installation with existing figurative sculptures. With gaffers tape, paper, and color gels, de Nieves created a narrative that begins with personal struggle and self-doubt, but ends with a celebration of life. In reflecting upon his father’s early death and his mother’s courageous decision to move their family to the United States, de Nieves sees the installation both as a form of remembrance and evidence of the achievement of an American community whose very identity is under threat.