En este país
es muy fácil perder la identidad. Esta sociedad es un gran monstruo
que ha creado toda una maquinaria ideológica. Ha creado una manera
de ser, pensar y vivir la vida. Esta idea le es vendida
talk about borders. Mexico being so close, what is its proximity
to your artistic imagination? Are there demarcation lines—is
there a place where one ends and the other (U.S.) begins in your creative
life as a Chicano artist?
In 1985, I went to El Salvador. The trip divided my life into the past and the present. When I returned to Mexico, I was no longer the same person. Like many young Mexicans, I dreamed about revolutions. We organized student movements in universities and in other organizations. Like them, my dream was to be in a true revolution. For that reason, I went to El Salvador, because at the time there was a revolution there. What I found was death, misery, and injustice. I realized that I was just living in a theory. I decided to leave Mexico. But didn’t know where to go. What I wanted was no longer in Mexico. Hence, I became an immigrant, and in a country where I least wanted to be, the United States. But a friend told me about the Mexican immigrants in the U.S. and how they lived here. I eventually ended up here.
[ translation ] The problem with being an artist in this society is that we isolate ourselves from the public as if we are another type of people. We create a select circle, where just a few enter and others are on the other side. Outside. Fame does not exist. What exists is the necessity of fame. It is why we create famous people and we place them above us. A market is created around them, and from that, we form a hierarchy.
That has happened to my family. They elevated
me, because inside us, there was always this need to know someone famous.
When I began to appear
in magazines and newspapers, my mother showed them to our neighbors
as if to say I was different.
En este país es muy fácil perder la identidad. Esta sociedad es un gran monstruo que ha creado toda una maquinaria ideológica. Ha creado una manera de ser, pensar y vivir la vida. Esta idea le es vendida al resto del mundo. En México hay una clase media que está adoptando los patrones estadounidenses. Quieren vestir, comer y pensar como estadounidenses. Entonces el vivir en el centro donde esa ideología se crea es doblemente peligroso. Porque lo más fácil es olvidarse de donde uno viene y comenzar a disfrutar de este "Sueño Americano".
De primero fue algo complicado marcar mi identidad. Pero después encontré la formula mágica. Simplemente tengo que notar lo que no soy para así saber lo que soy. Por ejemplo cuando viví en LA la gente decía que yo era chicano. Pero me di cuenta que yo no soy chicano. Entonces tuve que reafirmar mi identidad como mexicano inmigrante en este país.
In this country, it is very easy to lose one's identity. This society is a big monster that has created an ideological machine. It has created a way of being, thinking and of living life. This idea is sold to the rest of the world. In Mexico there is a middle-class that has adopted the American prototype. They want to dress, eat and think like Americans. Living at the center where the ideology is created is twice as dangerous. It is easy to forget where we come once we have the "American Dream".
At first, it was complicated to identify myself, but later, I found the magic formula. I knew what I wasn’t and therefore, learned what I was. For instance, in Los Angeles, people said that I was Chicano. But I realized that I was not Chicano. I had to reaffirm my identity like any Mexican immigrant in this country.
trabajo de los artistas es la critica. Somos el excremento
de esta sociedad donde se puede
es lo que se
come y que es
lo que nos
esta haciendo daño. Nuestro trabajo ahora
es interpretar donde es que estamos mal. ¿Dónde
está el problema con esa gran intolerancia
en la que vivimos estos días? Nos rige una
completa negación por lo diferente, por
Is there an artist that made you one? Is there an artist that opened your eyes to the possibilities of art? Is there an art work?
Mi comunidad no sólo es importante en mi trabajo. Es la que le da forma y lo mantiene. Si yo me separara de mi comunidad entonces lo que ahora es mi trabajo dejaría de existir como tal. Se transformaría en otra cosa.
Cuando estuve de manera ilegal en este país pintaba sobre este problema. Pero cuando obtuve mi residencia de pronto todo cambió. Me encontré con que ya no podía pintar sobre algo que no era. Entonces mi pintura se transformó.
When I was an illegal in this country, I painted about being one. But when I received my green card, everything changed. I was unable to paint about what I no longer was about. My painting changed.
Yo en lo particular quiero
que se me recuerde como
que dejo todo
búsqueda que nunca termina.
La búsqueda de quien
Personally, I want to be remembered as an immigrant, as someone who left everything to search for something that never ends. The search for who I am.
En esta profesión
todo es posible. Pero
se tienen que tener claros
no perdernos. Tenemos
que ver que es
lo que buscamos
en la pintura. Si lo
que queremos es hacer
hay un camino. Si buscamos
ése es otro
Si lo que queremos
tenemos que seguir
otra senda. Todo
es válido siempre y
cuando no nos perdamos
en un laberinto.
[ translation ] In this profession, anything is possible. But we must know clearly what our objectives are, so we don’t get lost. We have to know what it is we are searching for in the painting. If what we want is to make money, there is a way. If recognition, there is another way. If transcendance, there is another path. All is valid as long as we don’t lose ourselves in a labyrinth. Unfortunately, this country produces an a lot of agents who have no idea what artists are. That is discouraging.
El año pasado que me mudé a Carolina del Norte mi panorama cambió. Siempre había querido conocer esta parte de los Estados Unidos. La gente que vive en los estados mas conservadores. Tenía curiosidad de cómo pensaba la gente que había puesto en la presidencia a un hombre como Bush. Aquí me he encontrado con lo mas fuerte del racismo, la intolerancia, el conservadurismo. El fanatismo por la religión gobierna estas tierras. La comunidad inmigrante casi no tiene presencia. Mi meta es crear una presencia latina. Mostrar a esta gente que somos inmigrantes que venimos a trabajar por necesidad, pero que también tenemos una gran cultura.
Lo que esta esperando pro mi del otro lado no lo sé. La vida esta llena de sorpresas. Me gusta así.
[ translation ] Last year, when I moved to North Carolina, my landscape changed. I had always wanted to know this part the United States, the people who live in the conservative States. I use to have curiosity of how these people think. The people who had put into the presidency a man like George W. Bush. Here, I have come face to face with racism, intolerance, and the most conservative people I have even known. Religious fanaticism governs this land. The immigrant community has no presence. My goal is create a latino presence. I want to show them that we are immigrants who we come to work for necessity, but we also come with great culture.
What is waiting for me on the other side, I do not know. Life is
full of surprises. I like it like this.
As a young artist in Mexico City, Noé Hernández studied fine arts under Jaime Amado, a well-known Mexican Artist, including drawing, oil painting, and pastel. He immigrated to the United States in 1989 and experienced first-hand the challenges of being a Latino immigrant in the U.S. Through community involvement, he became acquainted with the immigrant community and the Chicano artistic movement in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He moved to New York City in 1991 and immersed himself in the diverse artistic communities in the city. His work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; New Brunswick, NJ; Newark NJ; New Haven, CT; Chicago, IL; Mexico city, Mexico; Paris, France; and Cape Town, South Africa.
Some of his recent endeavors include a commission in 2001 for the Policy Project in South Africa by the United States Agency for International Development to design a painting depicting the role that global faith communities play in the fight against HIV/AIDS . Also in the same year, He was commissioned by La Nueva Esperanza in Washington DC, to teach different drawing and painting techniques to a diverse group of Latino/a teenagers, to use art as a tool to reinforce their cultural identity. In 2004, he was commissioned by the Foundacion Segundo Montes and La Nueva Esperanza to do a mural and give workshops to a group of adolescents in El Salvador about the revolution.
He currently lives in North Carolina, a state with one of fastest growing of Mexican immigrant community. He will be doing a mural in the city of Winston, NC this Fall.
Email Noé Hernández : firstname.lastname@example.org