About the Artist
Born in California and raised in Honduras, Paul Ramírez Jonas currently lives, works, and teaches in New York City. In his practice, he challenges the boundaries between artwork and spectator by asking participants to contribute something—such as a penny, wish, or key—in order to fully engage with his projects. Key to the City is not the first time that Ramírez Jonas has explored the creative possibilities of the key. In Mi Casa Su Casa (2005), he delivered a series of lectures about how space can be defined as either locked or unlocked, before inviting the audience to exchange keys with him and one another. The same year, he created a permanent work of public art, a small park called Taylor Square, for Cambridge, Massachusetts. 5,000 keys to the park’s gate were mailed to the homes closest to the commons, symbolizing a shared sense of ownership. Finally, Ramírez Jonas’ project Talisman (2008) for the 28th São Paulo Biennial asked visitors to engage in a public agreement, leaving behind a copy of one of their own keys in exchange for a key to the front door of the iconic Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavillion that housed the biennial. Key to the City expands his longstanding interest in the key not so much as an object, but a vehicle for exploring social contracts as they pertain to trust, access, and belonging.
Ramírez Jonas holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA from Brown University. He has received numerous honors, exhibited internationally, and lectured at universities across the country.