Art in Focus: Joel Gaitan
Site-specific installation highlights the historical hierarchies, sacred traditions, and physical elements of Nicaragua and Central America.
Rockefeller Center and Art Production Fund kickoff their abstraction themed 2023 Art in Focus program with site-specific public art installation by Nicaraguan-American artist, JOEL GAITAN. Presented in multiple public locations throughout the Rockefeller Center campus, Gaitan’s installations will be on view until April 23rd.
Gaitan’s practice is a profoundly personal exploration of his family ancestry and identity as a first-generation Nicaraguan living in Miami, Florida. This cross-cultural study has brought Gaitan to challenge historical hierarchies within his art practices, liberating terracotta vessels to their exalted position within the sacred traditions from Nicaragua & Central America.
In the lobby of 45 Rockefeller Plaza, layered installations in the vitrine spaces will feature photography, Central American aesthetics, and Gaitan’s terracotta vessels as a celebration of earthly pigments. The windows will include imagery of Nicaragua faces, including some of Gaitan’s family members. The spaces will underscore Gaitan’s spiritual beliefs and connection to the core elements: water, air, wind, and fire, which play vital roles in our life cycle and the laborious process of hand-sculpting and firing terracotta.
Reflecting on life, death, and the afterlife, Gaitan’s terracotta vessels also take on a form of personhood. The 125-foot mural in the concourse of 45 Rockefeller Plaza features voluptuous forms with expressive faces ornamented with jewelry and text. These works are engaged in acts of pleasure as they reclaim and embrace a state that is true to their stories and cultural history.
Visitors can enjoy Gaitan’s murals which feature his signature use of bold and vibrant colors inside 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, and the street and concourse levels of 45 Rockefeller Plaza.
The Art in Focus program at Rockefeller Center, presented in partnership with Art Production Fund, presents the work of artists who are exploring and reinterpreting materials as a way to capture the human experience. A selection of painters, sculptures, photographers and more, these artists use materials in innovative ways to offer a closer look at the unique characteristics of people, objects and elements that are found in their daily lives.