Artist Talk: Ruth Prieto Arenas

Featured artist from Essential Work will provide insight into her series Panteras Negras and Safe Heaven. 


Meet Ruth Prieto Arenas, artist of the series Panteras Negras and Safe Heaven in the Berman exhibition Essential Work, as she shares the stories behind and techniques used in her work. 

Prieto Arenas’ photographs provide intimate glimpses into the public and private lives of Mexican immigrant women in New York’s service industry. Selected images from the Panteras Negras series depict the eponymous restaurant, dimly lit and warmed by deep red walls, where waitstaff serve drinks and supply tableside company to patrons,mainly immigrant men, for the time it takes to finish a drink. For this brief period, loneliness, isolation, or longing for home is replaced by a transactional community. Prieto Arenas describes the conceptual draw of this milieu as “intimacy without sex.”

Images selected from the Safe Heaven series invite viewers into the personal living spaces of the same women, revealing aspects of their domestic, parental, spiritual, and emotional lives, as well as the vibrant hues that conjure memories of home.

Prieto Arenas shot Panteras Negras on a digital camera and Safe Heaven using a Hasselblad film camera in 2011-2013. 

This event is free and open to the public. 

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Berman Museum, Main Gallery