Cuban-born artist María Elena González (b. 1957) is an internationally recognized sculptor based in Brooklyn, NY, and the San Francisco Bay Area, 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. Over a career spanning thirty years she has won the Prix de Rome (2003), and more recently, Grand Prize at the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts at Ljubljana, Slovenia (2013). She was a Guggenheim Fellow (2006) and has been awarded grants from numerous foundations including Anonymous Was a Woman, Creative Capital, Pollock-Krasner, Joan Mitchell, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Penny McCall. Additionally, she has served as the Sculpture Commissioner for the Design Commission of the City of New York. González has taught at the Cooper Union School of Art, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, among others, and is now a tenured Associate Professor and Chair of the Sculpture Department at the San Francisco Art Institute.
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 project was selected for a monographic presentation at the 2016 ADAA Art Show.
In 2017–2018, her work was featured in Home So Different, So Appealing, presented by the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) and organized in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Additionally, in 2017, González’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), in Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago [As part of the Getty-funded Pacific Standard Time exhibition program], which traveled to Columbia University’s Wallach Museum of Art, the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, FL, and the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, ME. Her room-sized installation Self-Service (1993-96) was recreated as part of About Face: Stonewall, Revolt and the New Queer, curated by Jonathan Katz, at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago, IL, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 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.
Bio and headshot courtesy of Hirschl & Adler Modern. Photo by Rolf Bismark.