Soft Power: Recent Projects by Alexander Hernandez
In Soft Power, mixed-media artist Alexander Hernandez brings together quilt and sculpture projects to explore intersectional identities and survival.
Featured projects include the Bay Area premiere of “STAYIN’ POSITIVE,” a series of textile portraits investigating the identities of Latinx and people of color living with HIV, funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission. Together, the colorful and playful “chimeras” celebrate the rich lives of these survivors. Hernandez’s “SURROGATES” includes soft human-sized sculptures locked in an embrace along with photographs in the desert terrain at the Mexico-US border. The works remind us of the isolation and dangers that migrants endure, along with the necessity to adapt, persevere, and care for each other. His sensibilities as a queer Latinx artist can be seen in his quilts and videos, which utilize pop culture references along with materials and patterns familiar in Mexican homes to evoke feelings of delight and longing.
The found materials, motifs, and colors in Hernandez’s works reflect the multi-layered references that saturate contemporary life. The artist states, “I patchwork together domestic fabrics, digitized prints, cultural textiles and pop-cultural artifacts to create Frankensteinian-like work that embraces layers and patterns. In the process I challenge gender roles and acculturation anxieties through visual code switching.”
About the Artist
Born in Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca, Mexico and raised in Grand Junction, Colorado, Alexander Hernandez (he/him) received his BFA (2007) in Painting and Drawing from Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design in Denver and an MFA in Studio Art (2012) from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Having participated in residency programs in the Bay Area and nationally, he is currently the inaugural artist in residence at the New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU). He has received grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Queer Cultural Center, and Visual AIDS. He currently lives in San Francisco, and has worked as a social worker finding housing for displaced LGBTQ youth at Larkin Street Youth Services and as an art teacher at Creativity Explored.
This exhibition is showing concurrently with Lost Keys: Recent Work by Mercy Hawkins, on view in the Kalmanovitz Hall Sculpture Terrace, the Kalmanovitz Hall atrium, and Thacher Gallery.
Learn more about Alexander Hernandez
Next Up: Stitching Communities and the AIDS Memorial Quilt
View the Exhibit: Dec. 1–Feb. 17
Featuring selected panels from "the largest community arts project in history," this exhibition explores the artistic and cultural legacies of the AIDS Memorial Quilt honoring those lost to the HIV/AIDS epidemic since the 1980s. Presented by the MA in Museum Studies Curatorial Practicum class led by Professor Kate Lusheck.
Image credit: AIDS Memorial Quilt panel 232, Photo courtesy of National AIDS Memorial