Daniela Rivera Receives Prestigious Contemporary Art Prize

A box tilts on its axis in an art space.
Photo provided by Daniela Rivera
October 11, 2019

When Daniela Rivera first moved to Massachusetts, she did not plan on staying for more than a year. Seventeen years later, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass., has awarded Rivera, associate professor of art at Wellesley College, its Rappaport Prize of $35,000, given annually to a “contemporary artist with strong connections to New England and a proven record of achievement.”

Rivera, a native of Chile where she grew up under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, received her BFA from the School of Fine Arts, Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, and her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her installations, often large-scale painting and architectural forms, reflect themes from her past, like political and social repression, displacement, and turmoil, as well as the importance of community and how we define it. “Experiencing need in loneliness made me aware of how important being part of a community is,” she said. “It also helped me understand the need of being critical and able to participate in the shaping of my reality.”

Rivera has said her background also shaped her persona in the classroom at Wellesley, where she has been a professor since 2008. She merges aspects of her personal life with her work as an artist and art teacher. “My experience as a mother informs everything I do,” she said. “My experience as a single mother was the engine that gave energy and direction to my professional life both as a teacher and as an artist. More than providing students with technical skills, everything I do in my classes is toward the development of independence, awareness, resourcefulness, resiliency, and agency.”

Rivera recently opened an immersive solo exhibit at the Fitchburg Art Museum titled Labored Landscapes. And she will give the Rappaport Prize lecture, sponsored by the deCordova Museum, at Brooks Auditorium in Lincoln Public Schools on October 23.

Photo: Tilted Heritage, lateral view.