Author: Hector H Hernandez
Collaborators: Angennette Escobar, Christian J Barrios, Janice Yang
Metamorphosis, acrylic on fabric with aluminum milagros, 30’ x 10’
APRIL 4-29 — MAIN GALLERY
Metamorphosis and Emergence
Angennette Escobar and Hector H Hernandez
with guest artists Christian J Barrios and Victor Hugo
The centerpiece of Metamorphosis and Emergence is a stunning 30’x10’ mural, depicting Frida Kahlo’s evolution from art student to revered icon of Mexican Modernism. The four Latino emerging artists in this show follow in Kahlo’s footsteps, transforming symbols and materials of traditional Mexican art and craft—such as mural painting, tile work and ceramics—into contemporary statements of identity, heritage and pride, touching on key themes in American art and culture.
The collaborative mural, titled “Metamorphosis” was conceived and designed by Hernandez, who was invited to submit ideas to enhance the 2022 Portland Art Museum (PAM) show, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism. Hernandez enlisted artists Escobar, Barrios and Janice Yang (a Blackfish colleague) to work alongside him in executing the work—live—at PAM. Escobar contributed giant milagros sculpted from aluminum, as well. These add an innovative 3-D element to the work.
First Thursday Opening Reception: April 6, 6-9pm
Escobar, Hernandez, Ikeda and Yang Artist Talks: Sunday, April 23, 2pm
— Angennette Escobar —
Casa Escobar, clay, watercolor, ink, wax, found objects, 24" x 24"
I call my work, Casa Escobar, because it reminds me of home. Casa Escobar is a deeply personal exploration of my Mexican heritage as an American citizen and how I want my culture to be seen, heard, understood and remembered.
I was raised along the Mexican border in South Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and in much of my work, I particularly draw upon my Mexican Catholic upbringing. My work often includes Mexican religious iconography, specifically milagros (small metal charms that represent miracles). I use body imagery intertwined with religious objects to connect with my cultural identity and heritage, as well as my corporeal reality as a human being. I rarely sculpt or paint full figures, instead I treat the body in parts or pieces like the milagros. I embed milagros into each piece as a secret prayer.
I often sculpt or paint onto found objects and combine them with other media like clay or plaster. Sometimes, I embed other religious objects into the surfaces of my work. I also use images, maps, memories, stories, songs and events from my childhood as subject matter and as a way to document and preserve them for the future. I will often use symbolism and surrealism to depict my ideas and Mexican folk art as a way to channel my memories of place and time.
This show is titled Metamorphosis and Emergence. The works I selected for this exhibition are sacred objects to me that are the result of how I have been processing recent personal loss and family illness. While making these pieces, I meditated on memories. I found myself imbuing them with my secret prayers. I am not sure how I will emerge from these experiences, but I already feel changed by them.
— Hector H Hernandez —
My early works in painting and drawing were focused on subjects related to my cultural anthropology practice and in particular social and cultural changes. I also had the opportunity to get involved on public art projects and in particular mural paintings. My involvement with mural painting took place at the end of my university studies in Social Anthropology working as an assistant of the master Mexican muralist Arnold Belkin.
The Mexican School of painting in my works is not only translated into the approach of social subjects but also the use of innovative techniques and technical resources. The Chicano/Latinx experience also has inspired me to explore furthermore topics of cultural dynamics and in particular cultural syncretism. The Mexican and the USA cultures merge into new cultural traditions and creations.
The use of metaphorical images fusing symbolism from different cultural traditions along with exploring the cultural and social subjects has taken me to develop visual narratives Metaphor in a suitable way to amalgamate layers of meanings and symbols as excellent resources to a structured a narrative. In this way the process of fusing different symbols allows me to explore cultural syncretism.
Hector H Hernandez
Dragons from East and West,
hand carved stoneware, electric fired, 24" x 18"
The term 'Metamorphosis' is an excellent expression of my concerns for such cultural subjects that evolve into syncretism. The previous stage of a cultural change comprises unrelated elements and, during a process of amalgamation, creates new relationships and meaning that evolve furthermore into new meanings and new relationships with the ending resulting in a new cultural syncretic creation.
The exhibition Metamorphosis and Emergence not only display metaphoric images that articulate visual narrative but also works that reflects the embedded syncretism process.
It is my hope that the themes and subjects I approach in this exhibition, and in previous ones, bring understanding to cultural changes and shifts. It is commonly perceived that cultural changes impose threats and risks, but my perspective of cultural dynamics focuses on the positive outcomes of such changes.
The World of Cosmic Tree #7
ink and acrylic ink, 24" x 18"
Various Views of Cosmic Tree
The exhibition, Various Views of Cosmic Tree is a continuation of artwork Kanetaka Ikeda has been creating on the theme of Cosmic Tree. Inspiration behind these works are from a vivid, memorable dream that Ikeda experienced back in the late 1980's where in the dream he was in the center of universe that appeared to be in a shape of ever-changing tree-like form surrounded by zillions of moving, sun like orbs. In this exhibition various views of the world of Cosmic Tree is illustrated in acrylic ink drawings and in a sculptural installation. Here, Ikeda does not attempt to realize his 'dream' in visual art mediums, but creates original visual composition inspired from the dream.
Janice Yang: Gratitude
I am very pleased to show together with Angennette, Hector, Christian and Victor as we celebrate the mural Metamorphosis that we worked on together last summer at the Portland Art Museum. I was grateful for the opportunities that were given to me last year including the chance to paint Frida for the mural project and the chance to create illustrations for best-selling author Maggie Stuckey’s book titled “The Container Victory Garden: A Beginner’s Guide To Growing Your Own Groceries,” published by HarperCollins Publishers in Feb. 2023.
When I was approached by Maggie for this project, I was very excited and touched by her intent of this book. As the Covid pandemic started, there were many that felt the need of growing their own plants. She wanted to help those who may not have enough outdoor space or not enough experience gardening. She wanted an illustrator that could depict the wide range of families and friends and life circumstances for which container gardening is the best answer.
I was just coming back from my residency at Golden Artist Colors, Inc. in New York. I was selected by one of the three international finalists to receive their fully funded annual art educator’s residency and I was very excited to apply the acrylic techniques that I learned for these illustrations. My seven full color illustrations including the cover image depict people from different cultural backgrounds gardening for their families.
Andre and His Family, acrylic on panel, 10.5" x 8.75"
Even though conditions during the pandemic were difficult, people in my paintings are grateful for the bounty that their small gardens provide. In addition to the book illustrations, the other paintings in the show such as "My Favorite Fish" express the gratitude of day to day survival and challenges of daily work against their hopes to find their sense of home. Gratitude comes from patience and the seeds that you have sewn in the past. It is appreciation for all you have now, and the hope of what is to come.
Blackfishers Doing Cool Stuff
See what Blackfish Artists are involved with outside the gallery this month.