María Elena González

Brooklyn, NY

María Elena González (b. Cuba 1957) is an internationally recognized American sculptor based in Brooklyn, NY, and Oakland, CA. González interweaves the conceptual with a strong dedication to craft in her complex installations and poetic arrangements, exploring themes like identity, memory, and dislocation. She is currently working on systemic changes at the academic level to educate artists in climate change mitigation and a sustainable practice in her own sculpture practice. Over a career spanning thirty years she has won the Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome (2003) and Grand Prize at the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts at Ljubljana, Slovenia (2013). She’s won a Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation (2019), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2006) and has been awarded grants from numerous foundations including Creative Capital, Pollock-Krasner, Joan Mitchell, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Penny McCall. She has served as the Sculpture Commissioner for New York City’s Design Commission and has also taught at Cooper Union School of Art and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, among others. González was a tenured professor and Chair of the Sculpture Department at San Francisco Art Institute until it closed in 2022. In 1999, González received widespread acclaim for her site-specific sculpture Magic Carpet/Home, commissioned by the Public Art Fund, and another site-specific work titled You & Me (2010), commissioned by Storm King Art Center. Her Tree Talk Series culminated in a solo exhibition at The Mills College Art Museum on January 2019. González’s work can be found in numerous public collections including the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; Museum voor Modern Kunst, Arnhem, The Netherlands; Museum of Art, The Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI; The Museum of Arts and Design, New York; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Magic Carpet/Home

María Elena González (b. Cuba 1957) is an internationally recognized American sculptor based in Brooklyn, NY, and Oakland, CA.

Artist Bio

Maria Elena González created large sculptures in parks mimicking the floor plans of apartments in the adjacent public housing projects. Each structure has a wavy shape to resemble a magic carpet, installed to appear as if it was floating above the ground. The work’s surface, made of a soft, fire retardant, black rubber material, is the same one used in playgrounds and provides an outdoor-carpet-like texture, with the floor plans carefully demarcated on its surface.

Award Year