To celebrate the Joan Mitchell Foundation's 25th anniversary, we invited 25 artists to reflect on the impact of receiving support from the Foundation over the years, and to share how they activated the resources provided by the Foundation. We collected their stories, along with studio portraits of the artists by photographer Reginald Eldridge, Jr., into an exhibition and book entitled Widening Circles: Portraits from the Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist Community at 25 Years. Here is the 6th story in our series, from Lilian Garcia-Roig:
In 2006, I received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, which had a large impact on the development of my work at that time. The financial freedom it provided allowed me to spend the time and resources to expand the scale and scope of my work to room-sized installations. I produced extensive on-site painting series at various locations around the country. Increasing scale proved to be key to the success of these paintings; I received renewed positive attention and many invitations to exhibit these works.
As my work developed, my interest in the landscape shifted from the formal to the personal. I became more interested in the connections between place, belonging, and identity. This shift coincided with a second great opportunity provided by the Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2017, when I was selected to participate in the Artist-in-Residence program at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. Prior to the residency, I had returned to my native Cuba to paint for the first time. The studio environment at the Center turned out to be the ideal setting to reflect upon and respond to that experience on a personal level. The interaction with other artists and the community engagement opportunities further supported new directions in my work.
My residency led to the creation of two radically different bodies of work that explore the relationship between my Cuban and American identities through place/displacement, sampled modernist aesthetics, and a combination of pictorial and actual landscape. I was able to greatly expand my painting practice while simultaneously strengthening my sense of belonging to a greater artistic community.
Lilian Garcia-Roig is a Cuban-American painter who lives in Florida. Painted on-site, her installations of densely forested landscapes explore the materiality of paint and complicate the nature of perception over time.
Read more about Widening Circles and download the full book here.
All photos © 2018 Reginald Eldridge, Jr.