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Meet Vincent Hernandez

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

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born here in Los Angeles and grew up in Van Nuys with my parents who are both from Venezuela and my younger sister who like me was also born here. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time playing soccer and was heavily influenced by the personalities and careers of Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho and Michael Jordan even though I didn’t play basketball. My Abuela is a sculptor and my mom studied fashion design so art and I guess more specifically drawing was something that I’ve always done. Around the age of 14 I picked up skateboarding after reconnecting with a childhood friend of mine and through that I began taking photographs. Luckily, my dad himself is a cameraman for the news so getting access to a camera and some good pointers wasn’t too hard. I soon began taking analogue photography classes at CalArts on Saturdays through the CAP (California Art Partnership) Program where I met my mentors Alejandro Sanchez, Andrew Freeman, and Ronald John Bache. I continued to take the class every Spring throughout high school. Now three years later down the line I’m still at CalArts except now as a college student towards a BFA in the School of Art’s Photography and Media Program.

Please tell us about your art.
I guess what I end up doing most of the time really depends on what the heart of the project is and from there I usually have a bit better of an idea what vehicle might operate and function with the subject or topic at hand . For instance, I took a course on collecting, my personal interest was the curation, housing, and life of a collection. I decided I would make a time capsule that housed one piece from the collection of each student and the teacher of the class, an artist statement, the class syllabus, the show poster, and the roster. As far as messages and inspiration go I always sort of keep my eyes and mind on swivel, I find inspiration in a lot of things: essays, books, films, other artists, but for the most part just things in my every day, I have an Ed Ruscha baseball card with a quote on the back that says, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is right in your own backyard.” often when I’m looking for inspiration I’ll take a walk around my neighborhood and shoot a roll of film. Jeez what do I hope people take away that’s a big question. I suppose generally speaking I hope that people leave with a different or new way of looking at what is presented to them but I’m certainly not alone when I say that. I think again that’s something specific to every project, starting this past Fall I began an ongoing performance work where I give tours of the San Fernando Valley. I hope that people who get to experience the work leave with a different understanding of the Valley that frames it not as an empty bowl lingering off to the side in L.A.’s shadow but as a space full of complex histories, cultures, and lives. I guess something to know about my more recent works is that I like to play with people’s expectations, I recently performed a work at Photo LA where I sold postcards out of my jacket for $1 and bagged them in wax sandwich bags that had my name on them. I handed a bagged purchase to a gallerist who paused, looked up at me, and said, “This is a sandwich bag Vincent.”

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I think defining what the role of the artist is, what it has been, or what it should be would discount a number of practices. I do think whether it be through a solo or collaborative practice that the artist brings to the table a position and I think opening that to the viewer can be a valuable way of connecting. Right now, I think local issues effect my work primarily, when in discussion about the Valley the issue of gentrification is one that I often push to bring forward as it makes its ways from the East and threatens to take over vulnerable neighborhoods such as Van Nuys. Conversations relating to my personal experience as a first generation American in our current political climate and also issues in Venezuela have become increasingly more relevant as I try to better understand my identity with age, I imagine it is a subject that will find itself in my work one day.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can see documentation of my work on my website. I drive a 1987 Volvo 240 that has “Valley Tours” in big bright red letters on it so if you see me around Los Angeles on the road that’s another way, I’m all for a good in traffic conversation about the project and my work. Book a tour!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portrait of Vincent by Looksorn Thitipuk Teeratrakul

1. The Rabbit Hole Postcard by Vincent Hernandez
2. Stills from the video piece “Valley Tours Promo” made with the help of Jack Paradise by Vincent Hernandez
3. 6 Works from the Series “__Stories of Van Nuys Told by Signs” by Vincent Hernandez
4. Looking Thinking Back on the Drought/Looking Thinking About California After the Drought by Vincent Hernandez
5. San Fernando Valley Sister Cities Sign, installation photograph by Vincent Hernandez
6. Slide (From Edition of 3) of the Finders and Keepers Time Capsule made in collaboration with Ray Chang, Courtney Coles, Sophia Daud, Olivia Demarest, Megan Diaz, Boz Garden, Jennifer Green, Clayton Kabealo, Michael Mendoza, Sophie Day, Brooke Mullin, Henry Palmieri, Safira Patel, Luna Ruiz, Sarah Sekula, Henry Williams, Liyaun Yang, and Kaucyila Brooke. Photograph by Vincent Hernandez

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