Cecilia Vicuña
Multidisciplinary Artist and Poet
New York, NY
2019 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Ford Foundation.

Cecilia Vicuña is a Chilean visual artist and poet whose work addresses ecological destruction, human rights, and cultural homogenization. She has lived in exile since the overthrow of the Allende government in the early 1970s. Vicuña’s ephemeral site-specific performance and installations, set in nature, streets, and museums, combine ritual and assemblage. She calls this practice “lo precario” (the precarious): transformative acts that bridge the gap between art and life, between the ancestral and the avant-garde. Her early paintings of revolutionary heroes and poets, depicted in the style of colonial saints, are considered pioneering examples of indigenous-led cultural decolonization.

Vicuña’s work has been exhibited at: documenta 14, Athens and Kassel; Hammer Museum, LA; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro; ICA, Boston; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago; ICA and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Her survey exhibition Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen, organized by the Center of Contemporary Arts of New Orleans, is touring museums in the U.S. throughout 2018-2019. Vicuña has published 22 art and poetry books, including New and Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuña (Kelsey Street Press, 2018), About to Happen (Siglio Press, 2017), and Read Thread, The Story of the Red Thread (Sternberg Press, 2017). She also co-founded Oysi, an educational resource dedicated to indigenous oral culture.

Portrait photo by Daniela Aravena.
  • Artwork by Cecilia Vicuña
    Quipu Womb, 2017. Cecilia Vicuña, raw wool, 8 x 6 meters. W. EMST Museum, Athens.
  • Artwork by Cecilia Vicuña
    Beach Ritual, 2017. Performance, raw wool, dimensions variable. Vougliameni coast near Athens, Greece.
  • Artwork by Cecilia Vicuña
    Quipu Womb, 2018. Installation, raw wool, 5 x 4 meters. W, BAMPFA, Berkeley Art Museum.
Artwork by Cecilia Vicuña Artwork by Cecilia Vicuña Artwork by Cecilia Vicuña