Trained as a painter at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts) in Lima, Peru, William Hernandez worked as a fine artist and graphic designer there before settling in Portland in 2009 at the age of 32.
William is one of the organizers for the first Intercambio de Artistas Latinos (Latin American Artists Exchange), which aims to create a network of artists in the Northwest. He is also an exhibitor, artist-in-residence and instructor at Milagros Theatre, and he organizes painting classes for immigrant workers at VOZ Workers Rights Education Project here in Portland.
Starting with a blank canvas, the artist paints without an initial sketch which he feels places limits on his creativity. Using oils or acrylics in bright rich colors he allows the creative process to be spontaneous.
William’s allegorical art reflects his culture. He expresses the stories of his childhood memories, his life before coming to the U.S. and the realities of the people of Peru. The past becomes a metaphor and, by using humor and sadness in a playful and dreamlike way, he draws in the observer.
“I would say that in many of my pieces my two sons and wife are represented in some form,” he pointed out. “The concept of family is very important to me as a visual expression.”
During the pandemic, his studio is now a more shared space with kids’ toys in the corner and a set up for online classes in another carved-out space. Although several public art projects were put on hold, he has stayed busy painting commissioned work.
To find out more about William’s work, visit WilliamHernandezArt.com or stop by the Blind Insect Gallery at Alberta Street and 29th Avenue.
Michel Reeverts, aka Maquette, holds a master of arts degree in art education, serves Alberta Art Works as director and Alberta Street Gallery as a board member. She is also a practicing artist. Contact her at Maquette@AlbertaArtWorks.org