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William Hernandez is a Portland-based painter whose artwork creates a bridge spanning his past traditions and memories to his life today as an artist, family man and Peruvian living in the Pacific Northwest. Trained as a painter at Lima's Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (1995-2002), Hernandez worked as a fine artist and graphic designer for public and international institutions in Lima before settling in Portland in 2009. His surreal subjects and graphic, illustrative style creates layered narratives infused with lingering emotions from whimsy to melancholy.
Hernandez is an active artist, teacher and organizer in the Pacific Northwest. He was 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 to share ideas, expression and art. He has been an exhibitor, artist-in-residence and instructor at Milagros Theater in Portland, a hub of the regional Latinx community.
As a teacher, he is dedicated to introducing the arts to all ages, from working as a Fine Art Painting instructor at the Museum of Art in Lima, to creating bilingual Spanish/English children’s workshops and organizing painting classes for immigrant workers at VOZ Workers Rights Education Project in Portland.
Hernandez’s vibrant paintings have been exhibited in galleries and cultural centers from Peru to Portland, including Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano, Centro Cultural de Espana, Concordia University, Onda Gallery in Portland and ArtXchange Gallery in Seattle. For multiple years, he participated in the U.S. Embassy's Noche de Arte: the largest art exhibition in Peru, a show that generates funds for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Hernandez's artworks are in private collections in Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Germany, Guatemala, Peru, Spain and the United States.
Being a Peruvian artist living in America, and now proudly included among the Latino artists in the Pacific Northwest, my art reflects my culture, past and present. I’m an optimistic, happy person, and I want to transmit this feeling of illumination to people who view my work. My life is bright, so my colors need to be bright; they are the result of my passion for expressing the stories and reality of the people where I come from.
I like to reflect on my childhood memories, and of my life in my country before coming here (at age 32). I use the past as a metaphor - as something important that has happened in my life. In some cases, it could be an experience or a moment from a previous day that somehow shaped my future. This cultural interplay is a way for me to translate and narrate my own biographical experiences with humor and melancholy in a playful, dreamlike and inspirational way.
Urban life in Lima, Peru is colorful in many aspects – buildings, people, attitudes…. Oregon is so green. It’s a different type of color than I’m used to, but still an incredible landscape of color. Finding my unique color palette has been a process, and it continues to evolve based on my life experiences.
I would like people who appreciate my work to feel a sense of comfort, joy and wonder. I like to convey a positive feeling that is portrayed in images and stories that the public can recognize and incorporate into their daily life. I hope my art takes on a life of its own and can affect other people's lives in diverse ways. It’s extraordinary to witness this public-artwork relationship; the connections that arise are limitless, and it is one of my main motivators when presenting my work to people.