Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons


Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

Of the plentiful positive trends contributed to contemporary art by emerging artists of color, a reframing and retelling of conventionally Western historical narratives is of the most powerful. Visual artists, sculptor and photographer Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons is part of the rising wave of Latina and Latinx influencing our conceptions of history and what it means for something to be “art.”

Campos-Pons, born in La Vega, Cuba in 1959, in the province of Matanzas, she has attempted, through her broad range of works, to explore her familial lineage’s connection to African roots and the sugar industry. Growing up on a sugar plantation with Nigerian slave roots, as well as Hispanic and Chinese blood ties, Campos-Pons has chosen her polyglot heritage as guidance for artistic practice and powerful creation. She emigrated to Boston in 1991, and has since become a prominent figure, as the Vanderbilt University’s Professor of Fine Arts.

Photography, Feminism, and Post-Colonialism

Campos-Pons, in varying statements, has made clear that her works are a testament to intersectional feminism and post-coloniality. She creates in order to “claim space for women’s issues, collecting and telling stories of forgotten people, in order to foster a dialogue to better understand and propose a poetic, compassionate reading of our time.”

With pieces exhibited in Canada, Japan, France and more, Campos-Pons is renowned for her use of collage and photography. Though currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, her work can still be traced and found around the country and New York City. The Brooklyn Museum has exhibited works of Campos-Pons, primarily her photographic collages. 

Replenishing (featured image) and Island Treasures (right)Campos-Pons, both large format polaroids, directly deal with issues of cross cultural personal history, as pertaining to race and gender. The artworks are, fundamentally, autobiographical. Campos-Pons photographs women and herself, with a special focus on the body and hands. Themes of ancestry, servitude, and the human body for capital profit are poignantly woven into the raw yet subtle paneled images. 

Despite the pain conveyed through these images, there is also a sense of hope. Reclaiming agency through creation, Campos-Pons aims for her works to simultaneously represent ”a celebratory gesture toward a unique and resilient culture.”

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