ESTER HERNANDEZ – CALIFORNIA ARTIST
IN HER OWN WORDS:
I can talk about the Virgin de Guadalupe because according to art historians mine [La Virgin Defendiendo Los Derechos Humanos] was the very first one who sort of brought her down to earth. Now, of course, every time I turn around I see her, even in tatoo parlors. Its no longer stayed within
our community, other people have embraced her because they have a need to worship to honor ancestors.
I’ve heard everything from people who wanted to kill me, to people who have thought that I changed their lives. I had given them something to live for, some hope in terms of their own sense of religion, iconography. I have always been taught that I am God, that God is inside of me. So in that way, the Virgin is inside of me. I think my notion of transforming
the Virgin is sort of like that–that is me, I am the Virgin. We are all gods, we are all goddesses. The light is not just in heaven, but its on earth. And we are living it.
I created “Libertad” while I was a student at UC Berkeley back in 1976. It was the American Bi-Centennial. So I felt I would be fun to turn that upside down and tell another story in terms not just of the country of the United States but also the statue of Liberty and sort of reclaiming the Americas is how I saw it. So I ended up re-carving the Statute of Liberty into a Mayan sculpture, and I put Aztlán on the bottom, sort of reclaiming the Americas as brown.