The Artist’s Search For Passion

Jocelyn Guillermo, Reporter

Robert Hernandez grew up in Jalisco, Mexico. Color and expression surrounded them in the years of their youth, surrounded by their family whose creativity ran in their blood. Their uncle became wealthy by oil paintings, their aunt a graphic designer, and their cousin a fashion designer. 

Growing up in Mexico came with its flaws as Mexican schools were stricter due to Catholicism and the fact that teachers were allowed to humiliate students by duck-taping them, cross-dressing them as a form of punishment, and hitting them. Laws were not strictly enforced to protect students; therefore, the teachers would escape any consequences.

Despite all of that, Hernandez still enjoyed the greenery that encaved their pueblo. Their kindergarten school housed cattle, horses, and even an “establo,” where they’d have rodeos, and people could show off their skills with a rope and horse riding. They’d love it when their kindergarten teachers would take the students on picnics on their property where they let the teachers’ cows roam freely. 

They would enjoy watching the sunset, watching as the sun would be swallowed by mountains who’d only known of green trees and fields of flowers and listening to the cicadas hum. Along with the toad frogs and crickets that would make their performance, as a whole if the bugs and critters were an orchestra. However, the more north their family rode, the duller and grey life started to seem. The colors of grass shifted from bright and vibrant to yellow and dead, which ultimately affected their spirit.

This shift caused Hernandez to become introverted and shy around their peers. Not knowing the language well enough caused them to bottle up their feelings and they quickly began looking for a different outlet other than words; a passion that allowed them to share their story. 

The search for passion came to an end in the eighth grade. They asked a girl to draw a portrait of them but she refused. To prove a point, Hernandez drew their portrait of themself and fell in love with the process of it. Already knowing how to speak by then, Hernandez had become extroverted. However, they had lost their connection and their way of expressing their emotions through words.  

They began drawing their dreams, emotions, and interests. Their surroundings influenced their art from the subject to the color they would paint in. It was always a mixture of positive and negative emotions that they would feel in their daily life by their family or others.

Being in a religious household as a queer, non-binary person, they were forced to suppress their thoughts further. However, this pushed them to draw more frequently and improve through immense practice. 

“Art is like journaling for pictures in your mind. Things that you just can’t really write and describe to people. It shows people what I’m thinking. I’m not that good at describing things to people or my feelings out so I use art as a way to cope with that and just show me how I feel visually,” Hernandez explains. “I’m not scared to communicate my feelings anymore. I can just express them more easily and it also just relaxes me a lot like in meditation in a way.” 

With the support of their friends, they were able to visually see the progress in their creations. In times of need for inspiration, they would look through their bedroom window and paint anything they would see. The comfort of picking up a paintbrush and dissociating themself from reality became the escape they needed.

 For many others, art is a form of expression to communicate their inner thoughts and conflicts. Showing emotion that they could not express through words.

“Art seems like Beto’s outlet. They [Hernandez] can turn any emotion into something beautiful,” said close friend Isabella Banuelos.

Similar actions are occurring by therapists through methods of art therapy. Art therapy is a common practice amongst many therapists to get their client to stabilize their emotions. Art therapy improves the mental health of people who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, trauma, dementia, and many more. Studies have shown that the creation of art increases dopamine levels in your brain which improves your mental being.

Art has always been an important part of the human experience whether people view it or conduct it. It surrounds the eyes of people with color and intensifies settings to the public. Many people appreciate art and the different styles that there are. This is all brought by artists who share their stories by visualization.

“They [Robert] make it a fantasy such as a mystical-type of art,” described family member Valentina Hernandez. 

Robert’s creations are mostly rooted in sentiment. Although at first glance, it may not express a message right away, it does have meanings with the support of the art style. Their art style can display sentiment through imaginative drawings. 

“Art becomes a part of humans, we can pick up the beauty and these feelings when we see art, I remember being at a museum and I was looking at this piece,” said Hernandez. “The only color they used was red and different variations of the color. It was a man. You couldn’t see their face or anything, but I just knew they were in pain, and I just kept looking at that and I filled up with, like, fear and just frustration looking at that piece of art.” 

Furthermore, art plays an important role in politics and society. Tactics such as propaganda have been used in art to make a country look bad or good. It is imposed to spread negative attention to a certain group. 

“The visual part of marketing is super important. We’ve seen propaganda images like we’ve been shown in history. There’s a reason why those pictures are so persuasive,” said Hernandez. “During wars, we dehumanize the enemies and like drawings to get the American people to think that ‘You know what, this was morally correct.’ In politics, art means a lot when it comes to creating it into propaganda.” 

The constructing of art in schools has been controversial for some. Many believe that art is not appropriate within schools because it is not ‘educational’. However, artists themselves believe that art should be conducted out of school due to creativity. Hernandez explains the restrictions of art when it comes to school.

I just feel like school kills the artists. If you go to art school it’s just like, it takes the fun out of it, and it takes the beauty out of the way. It’s restricting your own passion, and just really exploiting yourself,” said Hernandez. “Regardless of my opinion, I do think it is right to fund art programs, and just supply kids with art supplies and have a supportive instructor. There is no good art, it’s subjective. No one should rank it.”.