Judithe Hernández

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Judithe Hernández (born 1948 in Los Angeles) is a Los Angeles based artist whose career began as a founding member of the Chicano Art/Los Angeles Mural movements. She first received acclaim in the 1970s as a muralist. In her long career as a studio artist her artistic practice as centered on works-on-paper, principally pastels, which frequently incorporate indigenist imagery and the social-political tension of gender roles.[1] Hernández has lived both in Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles.[2] In 1974, she became the "fifth member", and only woman, in Los Four, the influential and celebrated East Los Angeles Chicano artist collective, along with Gilbert Luján, Carlos Almaraz, Frank E. Romero, and Roberto de la Rocha. As early as 1970, Hernández was involved in the initial efforts of Chicano artists in East Los Angeles to organize. Of this experience, Hernández later said that "Often I was literally the only female at meetings who was not a girlfriend or wife, but an active artist participant."[1]

2010 - Artist Judithe Hernández
1981 - Judithe Hernández painting at the "Murals of Aztlan exhibition, CAFAM, Los Angeles, CA

In 1965, Hernández became the first student to win the "Future Masters Scholarship" (awarded at LACMA and funded by the Sears & Roebuck Foundation and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce) which enabled her to attend Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1972, after earning a B.F.A. at Otis, she began graduate studies there. When Carlos Almaraz enrolled in the graduate program that year, it marked the beginning of a long friendship and professional association as members of Los Four. Along with Almaraz, she became involved in the Chicano civil-rights movement and worked on such projects as the Chicano Moratorium Against the War. During her time at Otis, Hernández studied drawing with the renowned artist Charles White. White, an African-American artist had spent time in Mexico, and was an admirer of indigenous and Latin American art. In 1971, while working as the illustrator of the Aztlán Journal, published by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Hernández illustrated the first volume of poetry by the celebrated Mexican-American poet Alurista, Floricanto en Aztlán. In 2013, the 40th anniversary edition of Floricanto received three prizes at the International Latino Book awards.

After earning her M.F.A.'s at Otis, she and Almaraz collaborated with El Teatro Campesino, worked on behalf of the United Farm Workers, and as members of the Concilio de Arte Popular (CAP), they worked to create an organization that united Chicano artists across the state of California. Chicano arts organizations such as the Royal Chicano Air Force of Sacramento; Galeria de la Raza, in San Francisco, and the artists of Chicano Park in San Diego were among those who during the 1970s participated in CAP.[2] In 1981, she and seven other Chicano muralists painted murals inside the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles for an exhibition entitled The Murals of Aztlán. She and the other artists were criticized in Artweek by reviewer Shifra Goldman for "shedding ... their cultural identity and political militance" in order to "enter the mainstream as competitive professionals." Hernández responded "why should changes in my work and socio-political attitudes be construed as compromising my commitment ... while in another artist the same would be construed as personal and professional growth?"[3]

In the early 1980s Hernández relocated to Chicago and lived there for more than 20 years before returning to Los Angeles in 2010. Her final exhibition in Chicago was a major solo exhibition of new work at the National Museum of Mexican Art. La Vida Sobre Papel, opened in January 2011 and included several new series of work, one of which was the noted serial murders of women in Ciudad Juárez. According to the Chicago Weekly, "The only thing as conspicuous as the artist’s skill is her message: being human is hard, a woman harder, and life as a Latina occasionally downright grisly."[4]

In 2011, Hernández was among a select group of artists whose contributions to the art of Los Angeles were honored in multiple exhibitions which were part of the sweeping arts initiative known as Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945-1980 (PST), funded by the Getty Foundation and the Getty Research Institute. In 2012 Hernández was the recipient of two major awards; the prestigious C.O.L.A. Fellowship (City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship) for 2013, as well as the coveted commission to create public art for the Metro EXPO LINE Terminus Station at Colorado & 4th Street in Santa Monica by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Los Angeles. The "Downtown Santa Monica" station which is scheduled to open in 2016, is currently under construction. When completed, "the station at the edge of the continent" will feature 24 works by Hernández positioned over its two passenger platforms and a sculpture installation at the plaza level by San Francisco based architect Walter Hood.

In 2013, Hernández was one of 72 artists chosen for the first major exhibition of contemporary American artists of Latino descent at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from works in their permanent collection. "Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art" opened in October 2013. After closing in January 2014, the exhibition is scheduled to travel to several other museums throughout the United States, including the Crocker Museum in California, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City, and the Hunter Museum of Art in Tennessee.

Hernández currently serves on the Arts & Letters Council of the Mexican Museum, San Francisco, and is the Chair of the Otis College of Art & Design Alumni Council She served on the Board of Directors of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles from 2011-2015.


  1. ^ a b LaTorre, Guisela (2008). Walls of Empowerment: Chicano/a Indigenist Murals of California. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-71883-8.  Available on Google Books. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Oral history interview with Judithe Hernández, 1998 Mar. 28, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution". Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ Lomelí, Francisco, ed. (1993). Handbook of Hispanic cultures in the United States, Volume 3: Literature and Art. Arté Publico Press, University of Houston. ISBN 1-55885-074-0.  Available on Google Books. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 
  4. ^ Riehle, Christopher (February 9, 2011). "Pain on Paper". Chicago Weekly.  "(available online)". Retrieved August 13, 2011. 

Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • Mi Arte, Mi Raza — Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, 1978.
  • Virgen, Madre, Mujer: Imágenes de la Mujer Chicana – Casa de la Raza, Santa Barbara, CA 1979.
  • A Decade of a Woman's Work – Solart Gallery, San Diego, CA 1980.
  • Judithe Hernández: Works on Paper – Cayman Gallery, New York, NY 1983.
  • What Dreams May Come / Qué Sueños Quizás Vengan – Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL 2010.
  • La Vida Sobre Papel – National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL 2011.

Public Art Commission[edit]

  • EXPO Line Downtown Santa Monica Terminus Station, Santa Monica, CA - Opens 2016

Public, Private, and Corporate Collections[edit]

  • Bank of America Collection, New York, NY
  • Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
  • El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX
  • Gerald Buck Collection, Laguna Beach, CA
  • Latino Museum of History, Art, & Culture, Los Angeles, CA
  • Max Factor Collection, Los Angeles, CA
  • National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL
  • Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA
  • Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA
  • Radio Bilingüe Collection, Fresno, CA
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • Self Help Graphics, Los Angeles, CA
  • United Farm Workers Union, La Paz, CA
  • University of California at Los Angeles, Chicano Studies Research Center
  • University of California at Santa Barbara, Chicano Studies Department
  • University of California at Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Special Collections, CEMA
  • Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA
  • Woman Made, Chicago, IL


  • City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship, 2013

Artist in Residence[edit]

  • University of Chicago, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, 2011

Archived Papers and Information[edit]

  • Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Artists, Washington D.C.
  • International Center for the Arts of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Documents of 20th Century Latin American and Latino Art
  • Getty Research Institute, Ernest A. Long Outdoor Mural Archive
  • Getty Images, Film Archive
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, Madison, WI
  • USC Libraries, Los Angeles Public Art, Special Collections Department, Michael Several Archives
  • Digital Public Library of America, Boston Public Library, Boston MA
  • Modern Museum of Art, DADABASE, New York, NY
  • Middle Tennessee State University, Walker Library, Archivos Virtuales: Papers of Latino and Latin American Artists
  • University of Notre Dame, Institute for Latino Studies, Latin American Art and Latino Art in the Midwestern United States
  • University of California at Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
  • Chicano Studies Research Center, University of California Los Angeles
  • Charles E. Young Research Library, Department of Special Collections, University of California Los Angeles
  • California Institute of Technology, Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Angeles Public Library
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • California State University Channel Islands Repository
  • Rutgers University, Women Artists Archives National Directory

External links[edit]