Aliza Nisenbaum portrays human stories. With her magically exuberant color palette, she paints people, individually or in groups, with their countenance, posture, and immediate surroundings organically composed to depict their humanity. Aliza Nisenbaum: Queens, Lindo y Querido, opening April 23rd, chronicles the artist’s years-long engagement with people at the Queens Museum and its neighborhood, Corona.
Adapted from the popular Vincente Fernández song “Mexico, Lindo y Querido”— translated in English to “Mexico, Beautiful and Beloved” — the exhibition title highlights Nisenbaum’s personal and artistic relationships to the sitters and their environments, with careful attention paid to expressions of what people value, as expressed through material culture. The artist’s involvement with Corona, Queens residents started in 2012 when she volunteered for Immigrant Movement International. Led by artist Tania Bruguera, this hyper-local, multi-year project was created in collaboration with the Museum and Creative Time to engage the neighborhood’s largely Spanish speaking community members. Mexican-born and New York-based, Nisenbaum taught a feminist art history class there as a way of teaching English to students, and that experience led to a series of portraits of the students and their families.
Nisenbaum returned to the Queens Museum in 2021, and now teaches a Spanish-English bilingual painting workshop to a group of volunteer leaders of the ongoing La Jornada and Queens Museum Cultural Food Pantry. Restaged as El Taller (The Workshop) the exhibition will showcase works created by the students alongside Nisenbaum’s portraits of these participants. Other highlights of the exhibition include three portraits of the Museum’s staff members who help facilitate her engagement with the local community, as well as The Ones Who Make It Run (2022), a painting commissioned by the Queens Museum and Delta Air Lines for the newly inaugurated Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport that portrays sixteen Delta and Port Authority employees.
Painting in the wide wake of Mexican muralists Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, who eloquently told social and labor histories, memorializing significant historic moments of the country, Nisenbaum’s stories, while also social narratives, arise out of private spaces and intimate situations relating to her encounter with the lives of her sitters. In this sense, Nisenbaum’s practice of painting is a kind of public record of the artist’s attention, permeated by stories told by her sitters—stories, that in turn, form the background scenes, imaginatively composed, of their tellers. Nothing more, nothing less.
Aliza Nisenbaum: Queens, Lindo y Querido is organized by Hitomi Iwasaki, Head of Exhibitions/Curator.
About the artist ~ Born in Mexico City, Aliza Nisenbaum paints portraits that are the manifestation of exchanges with her subjects, taking place over time. Distinct social groups are at the foreground of her work, including immigrants, dancers, members of grassroot organizations, and subway and health workers. She engages with these groups on various levels, sharing resources, skills, and ultimately, social representation. Nisenbaum is currently finalizing a commission for a joint collaboration with the Queens Museum and Delta Air Lines, with a mosaic to be installed at the new Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport in 2024. Her exhibition at the Tate Liverpool in 2021 featured a series of portraits of UK healthcare workers. That same year, she presented a project at the Atrium project at the Kemper Museum of Art. In 2019 she completed a residency and public mural project for the Art on the Underground Commission in London. Previous solo shows include Anton Kern Gallery, New York, New York (2019) and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2017).
Aliza’s work has been included in notable group exhibitions: She will participate in the upcoming Gwangju Biennale in South Korea (April 2023). Past exhibitions include: the Renaissance Society, Chicago, Illinois (2020); the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil (2020); the Drawing Center, New York, New York (2020); the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut (2020); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts (2019) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California (2018). She has also presented her work at The Whitney Biennial, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York (2017), the Biennial of the Americas, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, Colorado (2015); and XV Rufino Tamayo Painting Biennial, Mexico City, D.F (2012). Her work is found in collections including the Tate, the Aishti Foundation, The Hirshhorn Museum, The Kemper Museum of Art, The San Diego Museum of Art, The Rennie Museum, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others both private and public.
Aliza Nisenbaum: Queens, Lindo y Querido will be on view from April 23 to September 10, 2023 at Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY.
Aliza Nisenbaum: Queens, Lindo y Querido is made possible in part by lead support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Anton Kern Gallery.
The Queens Museum is housed in the New York City Building, which is owned by the City of New York.