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Conversations with Hector Hernandez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hector Hernandez.

Hector, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born and raised in South LA, from a working-class Mexican family who all have a proclivity for curiosity and making. I earned a BA in Art Practice from UC Berkeley (2009), and an MFA in Printmaking and Drawing from Washington State University – Pullman (2011). After finishing school I moved back to LA and have been here since making art in my spare time outside of my day job.

I was first introduced to the printmaking medium at UC Berkeley and have been making prints since then, and although I like working in various media I always find myself returning to drawing and printmaking. I realized in the last couple of years how my attraction to drawing and printmaking was in part due to growing up with loving watching and reading comics, cartoons, video games, and designs. Plus, drawing materials were easy to get and inexpensive.

Over the past couple of years (since 2020 to be exact), I have found myself reinvigorated in making prints and drawings, and have found inspiration in the social and political unrest that continues to this day. This work culminated in a show at Studio 203 called My America Is Not Your America, and was a mix of drawings, sculptures, printed merch, and workshops. It was cathartic and reminded me how the act of making art can help us slow down and work through personal issues.

Since then, my work has taken more political overtones, which I balance with humor, or at least make fun of the serious issues as a way to express the frustration of our current time and events.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Juggling work, family, relationships, AND making art is tough, and the Covid-19 pandemic just added to the whole pile. Luckily, the place where I had my studio at the time was able to stay open (with social distancing practices) and allowed me and fellow artists to keep sane and have a place to create and have some normalcy in our daily life. The hardest part was my father’s passing in 2021 after living with ALS for 8 years, but it taught me a lot and helped me realize the importance of community and support in a person’s life and in their creative practice. This last point is one of the things that attracted me to printmaking, too, and I have been thinking of ways to incorporate more community interaction into my art practice.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m an artist and printmaker, life-long learner, and educator and I hope to continue doing all this and more until I’m dead. My work is a mix of all of my interests, jumping between different subjects, making connections or to juxtapose ideas, with humor and the artist’s hand present to help keep it all together.

My recent work has become more overtly political in nature due to our current political and social climate in America, which isn’t always fun to work on but it sure can be cathartic. And looking back since my childhood, I realized that many of my favorite artists I admire used their art practice to make political and social commentary about their times. So I see my work evolving into being a reflection of my times and experiences in hopes of holding those in power accountable and helping to make changes to better our society.

As I make art, read, and have conversations with other creatives and makers, I am drawn to the importance of having a creative practice in everyone’s life. I haven’t done much so far in this regard, but as an educator, I want to work towards a place where I can help provide creative outlets to people through various forms. Still formalizing this aspect of my practice, but I’m having fun and playing while doing so.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Family, friends, making, learning, community, exploring. All our basic necessities but as I continue to learn and grow as a person I find that it’s the simple things that matter to me most. I do like new gadgets, toys/games, and that stuff but I am fulfilled and keep going when I’m using my skills to help move things in a positive direction.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Personal Photo by Noel Granada, Photos of My America Is Not Your America Exhibit (Images 1-6) by Cecily Brown

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