Ana Maria Hernando
"Flor Presagiada por el Agua"
(Flower Foretold by Water)
Sep 22 – Dec 17, 2016
In conjunction with the artist’s University of Colorado Art Museum exhibition entitled “We Have Flowers,” Robischon Gallery is pleased to present Argentina-born, Colorado artist Ana Maria Hernando’s “Flor Presagiada Por el Agua.” As part of and in keeping with Hernando’s ongoing exploration of “a world unseen,” the artist’s Flor Presagiada por el Aqua (Flower Foretold by Water) brings both form and feeling to the imaginative terrain of the night garden. Part site-specific, large-scale drawing and part light-responsive sculpture, the installation’s poetic nature and strong yet soulful presence inherently illuminates and adds dimension to the unexpected while it alludes to a potentiality that resides in the dark.
Hernando’s exhibited experiential work is revealed within a sequestered curtained gallery – an intimate darkened theater of sorts, filled with deep sound and light-play. The softly lit, massive black floral diptych draws the eye from the void beneath with its surprising illumination. This source of complex pattern and charged chlorophyll green light is given life from the projected light above making the discs appear to be lit from below as its widely-varied layers of circular resin discs pool at the root of the flower. In Hernando’s poetic visual language, the artist attends to a kind of nature unseen. While the flower is dominant in scale, it is the source of the flower that commands attention. Known for utilizing a variety of materials in her process, Hernando’s thickly painted floral forms on paper with shadowed circular cutouts, patterned resin discs and embroidered silks, recall at its essence the artist’s earliest inspirations. The hand-crafted linens of her Buenos Aires childhood along with the traditional needlework that surrounded her, celebrated the life-affirming flower as a symbol of the feminine. This sign of potentiality is revisited and reinterpreted in circular fashion by the artist as she regularly employs the services of the Carmelite cloistered nuns of the Monastery of Santa Teresa de Jesus in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to embroider her designs. This unseen world of the nuns becomes an essential part of Hernando’s expression as the silken elements are embedded in resin discs to cast light as well as hang individually to manifest additional recognizable motifs in her installations.
In other presentations, circular forms, sometimes paired with sculptural starched petticoat slips also from South American countries, are emblematic of how the artist weaves a bond with women, known and unknown, who devotedly stitch for their families and communities; an act of selflessness since the handwork can end up overshadowed by a feast or even spoiled under a spill or ruined by the playful activities of a child. According to the catalog essay from the CU Art Museum exhibition, scholar/curator Elissa Auther notes, Hernando’s use of the circle-form invokes “an ideological commitment to the non-hierarchical and thus non-aggressive way of relating to others and the wider world.” With the round form, Hernando recalls the sewing circles of collaborative stitching with her mother, grandmothers and aunts as they connect with the artist’s stated understanding of the “deep sense of strength that comes from the circle figure in all cultures.” Auther tangentially relates Hernando’s use of the circle in her work to the circular protest marching of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, women whose children were "disappeared" between 1976 and 1983 during the state-sponsored terrorism of the Argentinian military dictatorships that governed during those years. While Hernando recalls well the siege of brutal juntas that plagued Argentina, it is her intuitive experience of the power within the circle that translates not only as political stance, but also as art form and ritual; inclusion and remedy alike. In juxtaposition to sinister dark urges of humanity so evident across the world both physically and metaphorically, Hernando pauses to examine the initial fear and loss of orientation in darkness to then embrace the inherent, if latent, light that resides in blackness – a light that is inexorably revealed through her work. Auther states, that the artist has “experienced the night as an animate force that dissolves not only visual boundaries separating us from things and ordering the world for our ease, but also creates the powerful psychological effect of feeling at one with the universe. Hernando further explains, ‘There is a melting that happens to us when the night comes…color and edges disappear and we grow into the uncertainties of darkness. It feels like a more equalitarian approach to being.’” By submerging viewers into a sort of gestational potentiality within the curtained space of her latest installation, Hernando’s choice of both charged and low light allows for the notion that possibility may emerge from deep darkness. Light passes through the circles cut through the ground of her organic painting to engage with the darkness, a symbolic act that conveys that darkness can always be penetrated by illumination whether in the form of a ray of sunlight or as an enlightened or generous thought. Ana Maria Hernando’s ever-evolving acts of creation are in and of themselves a meditation as the artist’s unearthed visual poetry suggests and offers the promise of light in a world at a considerably weighted time.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ana Maria Hernando has an MA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a BFA from The California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland. She also attended the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Prilidiano Pueyrredon, Buenos Aries, Argentina. Her work is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, Jordan Schnitzer Collections, Portland, OR, The Addison Gallery, Andover MA, Kemper Museum, Kansas City, MO, The Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN, University of San Diego and numerous important private and corporate collections. She currently has a solo exhibitions at the CU Art Museum, Boulder, CO and has had other exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, International Center of Bethlehem, Bethlehem, West Bank Palestine, Marfa Contemporary, Oklahoma City Arts Center in Oklahoma City and she exhibited at the Museo de las Américas, Kimball Art Center, Park City, Utah, and the US Department of State Art Bank Gallery, Washington, D. C., Metropolitan State College Center for Visual Art, Denver, CO and additional venues. Currently, Hernando’s work is on view in a solo exhibition entitled “We Have Flowers” at the CU Art Museum through October 22, 2016 and in two group exhibitions in Boulder as part of “HOVAB (A History of Visual Arts in Boulder)” at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado which run through mid-January. Hernando has received grants and awards that relate to both her art and her poetry including the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation grant, a Neodata Visual Artist Fellowship and several artist-in-residency awards. Her ongoing Salka Poetry Project offers an engaging collaboration of conversation and poetry in both Spanish and English that explores the intersection of poetry and the visual arts.