|CULTURAL GALLERY INTRO
With the works in my cultural gallery, I hope to
share the pride that I have in my identity and reveal elements
of that identity that are not often celebrated. For me, cultural
pride has thankfully triumphed over elements of self-hate that
I experienced as a kid and that many of us who come from a colonized
experience have had to or continue to battle.
There is something very disturbing about a five-year old child,
rubbing lotion all over their skin and happily announcing that
they are now white. I was that child. My early years were plagued
by self-denial and misunderstanding. My family openly discussed
beauty standards that came straight outta American fashion magazines.
Being blonde was the ultimate blessing. Es linda, se parece
Americana (she's pretty, she looks American) were two phrases
that became synonymous. Looking American meant having typical
Caucasian features. Pelo malo (bad hair) was a huge topic
among my cousins. If ever I decided to blow dry my curly hair
to wear it straight, I'd often get the, "Oh, but I thought
you had bad hair." At this point, I barely ever blow-dry
my hair. For one, I don’t have the time to spend an hour
with a blower to straighten my hair. Second, my natural curls
suit me just fine.
I now like to think of that lotion episode as less of an act
of ignorance and more as an early indication of my inquisitive
nature. Clearly as a young child, I had known that white skin
represented privilege in this country. Luckily, by my late teens
I realized that Puerto Rican culture was made up of Spanish, African
and Indigenous elements that came together on that island. Once
I took profound interest in my culture, I embraced it wholeheartedly.
I learned that self-knowledge and understanding help to create
or sustain balance and harmony in one's life. To examine my identity
I delved into these cultural ancestries one at a time. The Spanish,
of course, was the most evident aspect of my culture. How many
Latinos still go around calling themselves "Spanish"?
Though many of us speak Spanish, we are not all Spanish. Spanish
might be in us, but unless we, or our parents, were born in Spain,
we are not Spanish.
I found the process of uncovering indigenous and African elements
in my culture to be most revealing. It was through exploring these
aspects that I began to tap into my spirituality. Combined in
this gallery are samples of some of my explorations of race and
the methods in which race manifests culturally. Also included
in this gallery are works that I like to consider products of
documenting cultural experiences and observations of such experiences
with social commentaries. You will also find images of my family
since family is the place where we all begin our identity searches.
© Copyright 2002-10, Yasmin Hernandez. Under
no circumstances should any of the images on this site be downloaded,
printed or reproduced without direct permission from the artist.