Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Herrera.
Gina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always felt a strong affinity for nature. Growing up in Chicago, I found the most beauty in the trees, the singing birds, the sky above. As a visual learner with a multicultural heritage, I have been influenced by my father’s Tesuque culture and my mother’s Costa Rican heritage. While cultural art fascinates me, experiencing beauty of great European art collections while stationed in Germany early in my military career inspired my professional pursuit of art.
While serving in Iraq, amid the devastation of combat, I was moved by seeing miles of mountainous trash heaps. I viscerally experienced the global extent of the systematic destruction of the planet, exploitative, unsustainable, and perhaps worst, careless, unconscious, accidental. This led me to question my own practices, hoping to lessen my environmental impact. I began to build three-dimensional forms out of discarded and natural objects. I am engaged in an aesthetic and spiritual ritual to channel and honor Mother Earth, to seek connection and communion with a power greater than myself.
Everywhere I go, I gather materials, finding inspiration in my surroundings. Like a scavenger, I play an interventional role in removing garbage from the landscape, preventing it from doing further damage. I am also drawn to natural materials and organic forms — branches, rocks, cocoons, nests. My process is meditative and intuitive – each step revealing a new aspect.
Figures emerge, in gravity-defying postures on the brink of movement, alive with possibility. Their haunting spiritual presence reminds us they have not gone back to the earth, but asks us to question our connection with our world and the choices we make in our daily existence. My greatest objective is to awaken individual and societal consciousness; to examine and heal our relationship with Mother Earth.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I am very proud of my military service — it made my higher education possible … but also interrupted it with overseas deployments. Although I retired from the Army in early 2017, I still work two additional art teaching jobs — at Arvin High School and Bakersfield Community College.
Bakersfield doesn’t have the same kinds of art opportunities that Los Angeles does … so one of my big challenges is my near-constant travel to Los Angeles, to participate in art critique groups and exhibitions.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Gina Herrera, Artist – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I gather …
My recent work has been fashioned out of materials found in my environment — a combination of natural materials and abandoned post-consumer waste. Each sculpture, while abstract, feels like an individual, an energetic being, often precariously posed and on the verge of movement.
My artmaking process is a deeply personal ritual, in which I aim to serve and honor Mother Earth both by engaging in scavenger-like practices to remove detritus marring the landscape and using these same objects to awaken consciousness in others by animating their continued presence.
As the looming environmental crisis seems to be speeding up and worsening, with unconscious consumption spinning almost out of control, awareness is also growing.
What can we do together? What power can we conjure through consensus, cooperation?
I am interested in developing proposals to engage the local community to use the things that we all throw away to raise our collective conscience, to bring awareness and healing to the way we choose to engage with the Earth. I am actively pursuing opportunities to create work for public spaces
Beyond the message of mindfulness, I believe that showing work created out of reclaimed trash, rather than special, often expensive art materials offers an inspiring way of both looking at the world differently, and also democratizing art-making.
I also think there are interesting ways to look at the way culture can inform the creative process. My Tesuque and Latina heritage and my experiences as a Veteran echo through my work … and offer a contemporary, rather than historical opportunity to consider the perspective of First Peoples.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My goal for the next phase of my art career is to expand into public art projects – particularly permanent outdoor installations in order to spread my message of environmental mindfulness. I have been pushing my work larger, and more permanent, taking welding classes, working in the metal shop at residencies, and creating a home welding setup, and writing grant proposals to fund the steel I need to create this kind of work.
I find it curious and inspiring that to reflect the precarious lack of balance I see in our relationship with the Earth, to create the life-like urgency and feeling of animation in my assemblages, I do so by embracing strength and stability.
- Address: 10408 Victoria Falls Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93312
- Website: www.ginaherrera.com
- Phone: 661-912-5472
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org