A photo of one person hanging on the wall of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington represents far more than initially displayed.
For San Antonio artist Marihernandez, who has regularly visited the Smithsonian Castle’s portrait-themed galleries since childhood, this image represents a dream come true.Hernandez 2020 photo portrait Cilia 42 works of art from all over the country will participate in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition exhibition held three times a year.
Behind the portrait is the Joan Mitchell Foundation, who studied English literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio, worked for many years in a non-profit organization of the arts, joined the group of Chikana artists, Mas Rudas. There is a journey to win an emerging artist grant. 2017 Exhibition at Crystal Bridges American Art Museum, Art Pace, Galveston Art Center and other arts institutions.
Looking back on how far she came, 39-year-old Hernandez said, “I’ve been doing this job for a long time. I have a vision of where I want to go.”
Uplift the community
Hernandez was the first student at the University of San Antonio to take photography seriously and rapidly increased the interest of amateurs in recording the culture of San Antonio. While taking pictures of the celebration of Diadelos Muertos, she was noticed by Manuel Castillo, co-founder of San Antonio Cultural Arts.
Many years of volunteer work at the organization led to a youth photography summer camp, eventually working full-time to manage the non-profit El Placazo newspaper and after-school programs.
For over 15 years, she has learned how a community-focused organization works from within.
“It opened me all these things,” she said. “Introduced in community-based art, introduced in mural art, the relationship between Mexican-American identity and community and art, and why it’s important, how art uplifts and speaks to people. I feel like I’ve found a house. I thought this was what I wanted to do. “
She learned more about the style and practice of contemporary art when her husband, JJ Lopez, who currently manages the KRTU 91.7 FM radio station at Trinity University, was working as a front desk at Artpace. In particular, her photographic work with Cindy Sherman’s flashy staging made a big impression on her. “I ate whatever I could get. She was really my main influence in terms of her self-portrait,” Hernandez said.
The shamanic influence is evident in Hernandez’s use of elaborate costumes and prostheses. This transforms a self-portrait into an art of portraying oneself as another.
Chad Dawkins learned about Hernandez’s work with Mas Rudas while working as a gallery engineer at Artpace. When he became the gallery director of the Southwest School of Art in 2017, Dawkins chose Hernandez for his solo exhibition. This is 2018. leftovers A show featuring artists with black-and-white portraits of prostheses based on the pseudoscience of physiognomy.
Hernandez and Dawkins cooperated with the show’s statement, subtitled the sections “Photographs of Photography,” “Photographs of History,” and “Photographs of Expression,” concisely concise the hierarchical purpose of her work. I caught it in.
Physiognomy has erroneously studied how human facial features determine their intellectual and behavioral features.
Hernandez considers the art of portraiture to be a suitable medium for tackling these complex problems through a very personal lens, from its early origins to the aristocratic era, and from various techniques to the present day. Did.
Bring the past to life
Her images of ethnographic themes and figures dressed in colonial costumes clearly refer to history, but Hernandez intends to bring them to life in the past.
Dawkins and Hernandez chose a linear representation of the portrait printed on spider silk known as silk flux. A seemingly historic portrait moved as a slight air-conditioned breeze flowed through the gallery. Dawkins, whose effect is eerie, fits Hernandez’s choice of translucent material to render her portrait as a “ghostly illusion,” as the title of her exhibition shows. Emphasized that history “remains”.
Curator Dennis Nance brought the image to the Galveston Art Center in 2020, Figure of truthHe and Hernandez chose to present them side by side, allowing viewers to see multiple images of each other, mimicking the multiple-exposure effects that artists employ for some images. ..
“There are many layers that become apparent when engaging as a viewer,” Nance said.
The layers of history that exist in the transition from self-portraits to portraits of others in Hernandez are subtle, but most certainly present.
At the National Portrait Gallery, along with portraits of the President of the United States and his founding father, Cilia Personal history and heritage represent the much deeper history of the United States, thousands of years of indigenous settlements, and the young women associated with the subsequent centuries of colonial occupation and settlement.
While working on a committee of the San Antonio City Department of Arts and Culture, Hernandez first met Syrian Lopez, the subject of portraiture, and eventually created a work to be exhibited at the City Hall.
Hernandez was urged to consider land and geography for his mission: “Immediate connections with the first people in our region … emphasizing our history and often pushing history to its limits. We emphasize this community. “
For colorful artwork, Hernandez, an indigenous organization of the Spanish Colonization of the Americas (AIT-SCM), created individual portraits of members of the Tāp Pı יlam tribe and members of the American Indians of Texas.Image of Lopez similar to Cilia Collaged with other members of the Tāp Pı יlam Coahuiltecan Nation, along with their heritage landscapes, dresses and symbols.
According to Hernandez, indigenous communities are too often historic. “The people of Koayurtekan are part of a huge community of urban Indians.” The collaged portraits bring that past to the present, and to the city hall, which Hernandez called “the place of the people.” In particular, Silia Lopez represents the youth of Tāp Pı REQ lam, wearing vaquera gear and saying “[pay] Her roots, a homage to the first cowgirl. “
Hernandez paid close attention to the creation of the image and the image that would eventually appear in the national capital, but it was up to the photographer at the time whether the portrait would ultimately convey the truth and depth of the subject. I don’t know.
However, when Hernandez saw the results, she knew it was time to enter the prestigious triennial portrait contest she had been trying to participate in for a long time.
“Why didn’t they love it?” Hernandez said of the image. “It’s a very beautiful image of her. She’s a beautiful young woman, so I was pretty confident when I entered.” Her confidence when she was selected for the exhibition from 2,700 applicants. Was justified.
A diverse country
The National Portrait Gallery was closed for refurbishment from 2000 to 2006 and “promotes a new understanding of portraiture and how its art form helps to image all of the country’s diversity and abundance.” It has resumed with a new perspective aimed at. Co-curator of painting, sculpture, Latin art and history, and the Outwin Boochever competition.
Awarded by the museum’s former Docent, the competition “shows snapshots of the different ways artists are involved in the genre, especially how many artists are overturning the genre to defeat unrepresented people. Shows. The original tradition of portraiture serving the elite. “
Photo curator and exhibition co-curator Leslie Urena said that the ciliated portraits taken in the profile overturn the views common to mugshots and ethnographic images rather than magnificent portraits. Hernandez and Lopez chose a profile view that “takes that power dynamically and shifts to express themselves” rather than being represented from an authoritative perspective.
“The fact that this young woman from South Texas, who has connections with the first people of this generation, is in the National Museum is of great value,” Hernandez said.
“When we think of places like the Smithsonian, especially portrait galleries, we look at these people and realize that they are important people. This is our history and this is the timeline of our birth. “She said.
Hernandez said that when the history of portraiture expands to represent Lopez and other undervalued heritage, it achieves relevance as a continuous form of art.
“Portraits have a lot of value,” she said. “My family has a huge photo archive, which has a huge impact on me in learning who I am, where I came from, and my own identity and creating this connection with the past. I gave it. “
Hernandez has achieved one dream, so focus on pursuing the other. While continuing to work as a leadership institution and conference program manager for the Latin American Institute of Arts and Culture, she is preparing for exhibitions in Houston and Tennessee and continues to work on contracts with the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. increase.
Hernandez said she was grateful for the opportunities she had, both as an artist and in working for a non-profit organization of art. She said, “Every job is connected. It’s all summarized in these major things that I’m interested in and working on in my life.”