• Monday: 10am-5pm
  • Tuesday-Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 10am-5pm
  • Friday: 10am-7pm
  • Saturday: 10am-5pm
  • Sunday: 10am-5pm

1606 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501


Carmen Herrera

Carmen Herrera: I'm Nobody! Who are you? installed at SITE SANTA FE, photo by Zach Chambers

Carmen Herrera: I'm Nobody! Who are you? installed at SITE SANTA FE, photo by Zach Chambers

Carmen Herrera: I'm Nobody! Who are you? installed at SITE SANTA FE, photo by Zach Chambers

I'm Nobody! Who are you?

I’m Nobody! Who are you? is a solo exhibition by Cuban-born American abstract minimalist artist Carmen Herrera (1915-2022). For over eight decades, Herrera dedicated herself to exploring abstraction through minimalist principles, striving for what she believed to be the most basic and pure visual solutions; she simplified her compositions to shape, line, and vibrant color. Born in Cuba and educated in Havana and Paris, she was taught techniques in classical sculpture and drawing from a very young age. Her artistic pursuits led her to Paris during her teenage years, where she immersed herself in the study of art history and French.

Herrera’s distinctive abstract perspective began to take form during her architectural studies at the Universidad de La Habana in the late 1930s, a pivotal period that profoundly influenced her artistic journey. Herrera often remarked, “I wouldn’t paint the way I do if I hadn’t gone to architecture school.”

She studied at the Art Students League in New York from 1943-47 and returned to Paris from 1948-1953, where she honed and refined her unique geometric abstract style, paring her palette down and employing sharp, hard-edged, precise lines that foretold the Minimalist movement by nearly a decade. Herrera was in love with the line. She considered lines not only the building blocks of all shapes and forms, but also the power to construct, connect, simplify, and define.

Despite her undeniable talent, movements such as Minimalism and Abstraction were largely dominated by men, often overshadowing invaluable contributions by women like Herrera. Her work emerged alongside celebrated male peers such as Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman, Frank Stella, and Leon Polk Smith, yet her genius was only acknowledged much later in her life, marked by her inaugural museum retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 2016, a remarkable achievement at the age of 101. This delayed recognition sheds light on persistent challenges in the art world today. Being a female Latina artist and an immigrant, Herrera faced discrimination, particularly during the 1950s and ‘60s, while living and working in New York.

The title I’m Nobody! Who are you? originates from an Emily Dickinson poem, noted as one of Herrera’s favorites by her close friend, artist Tony Bechara. This brief yet impactful poem highlights the virtue of anonymity and isolation, celebrating the value of solitary reflection. At age 105, Herrera echoed similar sentiments: “Being ignored is a form of freedom. I felt liberated from having to constantly please anyone.”

Disproving the stereotypes of ageism, Herrera made art well into her 100s. I’m Nobody! Who are you? focuses on works made between the ages of 95 and 102 (2010 to 2017), including paintings and two early Estructuras (three-dimensional works), conceived in the 1960s and ‘70s and fabricated in 2019.

Herrera once said, “I never met a straight line I did not like.” Her practice aimed to simplify — a lifetime journey of refinement and purification. Yet, her work also echoes the dehumanizing aspect of perfection. Despite appearing mathematically precise, her strokes brim with tension, purity, and aliveness.

Related Events
Carmen Herrera Film Screening and Long Table ConversationVIEW EVENT


Support for I'm Nobody! Who are you? is generously provided by
SITE SANTA FE Board of Directors
SITE SANTA FE Exhibitions Fund
Tony Bechara
Estrellita and Dan Brodsky
James Cahn and Jeremiah Collatz
Rosina Yue
City of Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department and the 1% Lodgers Tax
New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment of the Arts


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