Noemí Ruiz and her “exceptional” legacy in Puerto Rican art

Alexandra Acosta Vilanova (El Vocero) reports on the trajectory of artist Noemí Ruiz (1931-2023) who passed away on May 10. Acosta Vilanova writes that she stood out as “one of the pioneers of abstract art” in Puerto Rico. Here are excerpts from the article, followed by a short bio from MAPR.

Graphic artist Noemí Ruiz passed away yesterday, leaving a part of herself on the walls of museums, galleries, and universities.

Born in 1931, she stood out as one of the pioneers of abstract art in Puerto Rico. After a Bachelor of Arts from the Inter-American University of San Germán, in 1953, and a Master’s degree from New York University, in 1956, she pursued doctoral studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

She “she came to Puerto Rico to teach and to develop as a painter and she did this wonderful work. Abstraction is always divided into geometric abstraction—the one that uses shapes, lines, points—and lyrical abstraction, which is through strokes, colors. She does something that is in-between, because she starts with geometric shapes, and the dynamics in which the shapes are presented are very lyrical, poetic. Indeed, she was also a poet; she wrote poetry, and it is something that is present in her work,” said Juan Carlos López Quintero, curator of the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico (MAPR), where her piece called “Jazz” is exhibited. [. . .]

Short bio (from the Puerto Rico Museum of Art, MAPR): Painter, printmaker and professor. She earned a bachelor’s degree in arts from Inter American University in San Germán in 1953 and a master’s degree from New York University in 1956. She studied with George McNeil and was a lithography student at the Students’ Association Workshop of the University of California at Berkeley. She completed doctoral studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid. She was an art professor at Inter American University of Puerto Rico until her retirement. In 1979 she was appointed director of the Arts Department and in 2006 she was conferred the title of Professor Emeritus. In 1984 she was founding member of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico. As a tireless promoter of art teaching, from 1988 to 1989 she was a member of the board of directors of the School of Visual Arts of San Juan and of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. Along with Olga Albizu, she is one of the key artists in the development of abstract art in Puerto Rico. She has captured in her work the range of colors and rhythms that characterize our tropical region into compositions that portray great visual and expressive force which she has developed from personal ideas and feelings.

For full obituary article, see (Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero.)

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