Aponte: An Opera


Teresita Fernández’s work is characterized by an interest in self-reflection and conceptual wayfinding. Her immersive, monumental works emphasize the connection between place, people, and materials–poetically evoking the landscape while also exposing the loaded historical ties to colonization and the inherent violence embedded in it.

Artist Bio

Ada Ferrer, an award-winning writer and historian, is Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University.

Artist Bio

Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz is an art historian with expertise in African and Caribbean artistic, visual, and religious practices.

Artist Bio

Aponte is an opera inspired by 19th-century Afro-Cuban hero José Antonio Aponte, who ignited a slave rebellion in Cuba and created an extraordinary, and now lost, artifact, the “Book of Paintings.” The opera brings to life the fascinating story of Aponte and the timeless relevance of revolution and social justice. Teresita Fernández, Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz, and Ada Ferrer reinterpret Aponte’s story for our present, beginning from his own words—about his art, his humanity, his revolution, his world. It connects—as Aponte himself strove to do—the work and passion of making political and social change with the redemptive power of art and the imagination. 

The creative team currently includes Teresita Fernández (Visual Artist); Yosvany Terry (Composer); Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz (Art Historian); Ada Ferrer (Historian); Jessica Lanay (Librettist); and Ian Askew (Librettist).


Discipline
Installation, Opera
Award Year
2022
Status

In Progress

A Latina woman with dark hair in a high bun, wearing a black turtleneck and large black and gold earrings. She is in front of an artwork panel that is golden, metallic, and black.

Teresita Fernández

Brooklyn, NY

Teresita Fernández’s work is characterized by an interest in self-reflection and conceptual wayfinding. Her immersive, monumental works are inspired by a rethinking of landscape and place, as well as by diverse historical and cultural references. Often drawing inspiration from the natural world, Fernández’s practice emphasizes the connection between place, people, and materials. Her luminous works poetically evoke the landscape while also exposing the loaded historical ties to colonization and the inherent violence embedded in it. Her work is a quiet unraveling of place, power, visibility, and erasure that prompts an intimate experience for individual viewers. Fernández is a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Artist’s Grant, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award. Appointed by President Obama, she is the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a 100-year-old federal panel that advises the president and Congress on national matters of design and aesthetics. Fernández’s works have been exhibited both nationally and internationally at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Smithsonian Museum of American Art; MASS MoCA; and Castello di Rivoli, Turin, among others. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


Collaborators

Ada Ferrer, an award-winning writer and historian, is Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University.

Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz is an art historian with expertise in African and Caribbean artistic, visual, and religious practices.

A woman with glasses, graying short, curly black hair, wearing a black mock turtleneck, in front of a gray wall.

Ada Ferrer

New York, NY

Ada Ferrer, an award-winning writer and historian, is Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. She is the author of Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868–1898, winner of the Berkshire Book Prize for the best first book by a woman in any field of history, and Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution, which won the Frederick Douglass Book Prize from the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale University as well as multiple prizes from the American Historical Association. Her most recent book, Cuba: An American History, published by Scribner, is both a history of the island from before Columbus to the present, as well as a reflection on the relationship between personal stories and national and transnational histories. She wrote much of the book while in residence at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library and on a Guggenheim Fellowship.


Collaborators

Teresita Fernández’s work is characterized by an interest in self-reflection and conceptual wayfinding. Her immersive, monumental works emphasize the connection between place, people, and materials–poetically evoking the landscape while also exposing the loaded historical ties to colonization and the inherent violence embedded in it.

Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz is an art historian with expertise in African and Caribbean artistic, visual, and religious practices.

Bárbaro-Martínez-Ruiz-optimized

Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz

Bloomington, IN

Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz earned his BA from the University of Havana in 1994 and his Ph.D from Yale University in 2004. He is an art historian with expertise in African and Caribbean artistic, visual, and religious practices. He was the 2017-2018 recipient of the Leverhulme Visiting Professorship, hosted by Oxford’s School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, and a Senior Fellow at St. Anthony’s College and Trinity College. His books include Kongo Graphic Writing and Other Narratives of the Sign, El Colegio de México, Faisal Abdu’Allah: On the Art of Dislocation, and Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds, for which he received the College Art Association Alfred H. Barr Award.


Collaborators

Teresita Fernández’s work is characterized by an interest in self-reflection and conceptual wayfinding. Her immersive, monumental works emphasize the connection between place, people, and materials–poetically evoking the landscape while also exposing the loaded historical ties to colonization and the inherent violence embedded in it.

Ada Ferrer, an award-winning writer and historian, is Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University.