Gabriela Hernández is a Mexican artist who has had a bright and promising career in her use of artivism to create a critical consciousness on the issues that impact her and her community while creating spaces where immigrant and LGBTQ voices could be highlighted and celebrated.
Hernández was born in Ciudad Juárez, México where she lived until the age of seven; the artist, mother, and sisters later had to leave as they migrated to the United States in search of a better future away from family abuse. In the United States, Hernández and her family built a new life in Longmont, Colorado where she thrived as a community member, student, and artist. In the sixth grade, she began her artistic career when she, and her sister Ana, painted a mural at the Longmont Museum through Casa de la Esperanza, a local community center aimed at providing resources and opportunities for self-empowerment for immigrant families in the area. This first mural not only allowed Hernández to solidify her passion for art, but also led her to see herself as an agent for social change.
Early in her life, Hernández discovered a deep passion not only for art but also for activism. As an undocumented immigrant herself, Hernández understood the immense struggles faced by the immigrant community and decided that she would fight alongside other youth for her right to be treated with dignity and respect. Connecting with her queer identity, Hernández also sought to highlight and connect the voices of LGBTQ youth through her courageous and fierce social activism. In 2013, she participated in several public demonstrations to pressure President Obama and the Department for Homeland Security to grant undocumented youth Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals while also engaging community members, parents, and youth to become engaged in the cause.
Professionally, she has continued to use mixed media as a tool for social change. Every piece of art—whether a mural, a photograph, a painting, or an illustration—that Hernández produces has the purpose of sparking a critical consciousness towards a variety of topics that include immigration, identity, and the LGBTQ community. She received the prestigious Seabury Fellowship through which Hernández created Jotería: Undocumented, a project that encompasses a series of 6x3 banners that seek to represent the struggles faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and undocumented people. Jotería: Undocumented has led Hernández to travel the nation sharing her story and engaging the public to think critically on the political and social issues embedded in her art.
Hernández hopes to continue to create social change through her art. She hopes to inspire others who face the same struggles and difficulties to raise their voices against the systems of oppression that have silenced them for many years. She hopes her art will continue to educate, engage, and highlight the strength and resilience of her community.