Brendan Fernandes: A Letter to Noguchi

Anna Carnick, Design Miami , May 14, 2021

“It feels almost like fate,” acclaimed Chicago-based artist Brendan Fernandes says. He’s speaking, somewhat dreamily, about his connection to the late, legendary Japanese-American designer-sculptor Isamu Noguchi, a man Fernandes never met but with whom he's felt entwined for years.

The thread began during Fernandes’ tenure as a professional dancer; he’s formally trained in ballet and Martha Graham techniques. Noguchi famously collaborated with Graham herself for years, starting in the 1930s, to create sets as bold and innovative as the groundbreaking choreographer’s modern dance pieces.


Then, when an injury ended Fernandes’ dance career ended, he began to merge his hard-earned dance expertise with his visual arts practice. The resulting performance-based works often feature dancers interacting with Fernandes’ own dramatic set designs—such as sculptural scaffolding and ropes that dancers pull and push as they move. Just like Noguchi, Fernandes is fascinated by the interaction between human, object, and space—and the power of objects to inspire movement physically and metaphorically. His cross-disciplinary works explore issues of race, migration, and protest and have been performed at notable venues,  from the Whitney Biennial to the Guggenheim.