photograph: Lucie Hugary, courtesy Twyla.com
Alette Simmons-Jimenez's studio is filled with artwork constructed in several mediums, some finished, some in progress, and some that are permanently ongoing. Evidence of "women's work" is everywhere, and instruments for cutting, sewing, or weaving abound. But, if you look to the side wall, you can see there’s obviously more to the story. Its shelves and pegboards are full of tools for sawing, drilling, hammering, sanding, and polishing.
Early on she was exposed to diverse cultural influences stretching from Italy, to Portugal, to Atlanta, New Orleans, the Dominican Republic, New York, Florida and more. Works are built with a wide range and variety of elements - from her Grandmother's embroidered handkerchiefs to preformed concrete, and from gold leaf to woven rebar wire. Materials are manipulated, deconstructed, and then reassembled intermixing and collaborating in a visceral interpretation of identity and ethnicity.
An essential principle of the artist's method hinges on being connected to nature. To experience the touch, the smell, and the feel of things - of paper, of wood, of dirt, rocks, and streams, is the catalyst for every work. And, if you look around some more you'll discover a shelf of small glass jars, a multi-hued collection of dirt samples. She explains, "Each one echoes back to a specific moment and place. They're documents to personal experiences ranging from grand spaces to quiet overlooked corners and bypassed gardens. I love having that tangible connection near me."
Simmons-Jimenez’s work reflects the complexities, far from equilibrium, between man and nature. Her broad vocabulary of materials, marks, shapes, and forms, encroach and interact, pushing and pulling the surfaces. Her work exists as part harmony and part dissonance, the sum of human experience.
Simmons-Jimenez received a BFA from Newcomb College in New Orleans, began her studio practice in the Dominican Republic and is now based in Miami. She has exhibited in museums, galleries, the US Art in Embassies program, and media festivals in Spain, France, Saudi Arabia, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Shanghai, Honduras, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the Canary Islands; and in the US in New York, Miami, New Orleans, Palm Beach, Long Beach, Birmingham-MI, Chicago, DC, Atlanta, and more. Notable institutions that have exhibited her work are the Chelsea Museum New York, The Mobile Museum of Art, the Museo de Arte Moderno-Dominican Republic, the US Dept. of State Art in Embassies Program, Casa de la Cultura-the City of Valencia, Musée du Luxembourg, Boca Raton Museum of Art, the Appleton Museum, the Lowe Museum, the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, MOCA N. Miami, the Frost Museum, the Gulf Coast Museum of Art, the Museum of Art Ft. Lauderdale, and others.
She is a recipient of a prestigious Knight Arts Challenge Grant, a Florida Fellowship Grant, a Florida Artists Enhancement Grant, a Miami-Dade Tourism Development Grant, a Miami-Dade Community Grant, and several more awards for both her artwork and for art project development through Artformz Alternative, an artist’s collective project she founded in 2004. In 1992 she was awarded the 1st Prize in Video at the XVIII Biennial in the Dominican Republic, resulting in her designation as a pioneer in video art and gender discourses in the country. She was the first woman to exhibit video installation art in the D.R.
The artist’s work is held in permanent collections at the Mobile Museum of Art, Alabama; Santo Domingo’s Museo de Arte Moderno; Mastercard International; the Jaffe Center for Book Arts; Louisville’s 21c Museum; and numerous private collections. Her work has been reviewed and featured in several publications such as Sculpture Magazine, Arte Al Limite (Chile), The Atlanta Journal, Miami Art Guide, The Miami New Times, Creative Loafing, The Art Newspaper, Jane Magazine, Ocean Drive Magazine, Artes (Santo Domingo), Bad at Sports, The Miami Herald and a cover story for the Miami Herald Tropical Life Magazine, twice in New American Paintings including once the selection for the cover. She is listed among the creatives that helped forge the South Florida art community in the definitive books ‘Miami Contemporary Artists,’ released by Schiffer Publishing in 2007, and ‘100+ Degrees In The Shade: A Survey of South Florida Art,’ released by [NAME] publications in 2015.
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One of the most visceral and fascinating aspects… the flowers she was pasting up were still fading and losing their color – they were “live” paintings, in the sense that they were also dying. Anne Tschida “Nature in a Studio”
Airy sculptures, woven wit wire deftly incorporate biomorphic forms as they are caught in a slow dance with gravity. Elisa Turner “Critic’s Pick” Miami Herald
A visual exploration achieved by way of a dialogue between the formal elements of video… possessed of indisputable brilliance. Jean Louis Jorge, Juror, XVIII Biennial, Dominican Republic
The effect is seductive and velvety, and mysteriously wrought with emotional associations. Dr. Carol Damian “Inside-Outside”
The artist dares again to break through her own creations freely opening up new possibilities for her art. Milagros Bello, Ph.D. “Deconstructing the Modern”