“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending” -Carl Bard
If there was ever an artist that embodied this quote, that artist would be Merilyn Hernandez. From lingering to overcoming, Hernandez’s paintings developed to harbor the change that comes from embracing our pasts and its subsequent growth as we push forward into a new way of life.
To witness the transition, we’ll compare these two images below:
Moving Forward, Reaching Backwards 2017
Stand Tall 2017
Hues of purple, red and blues depicting bruises, half-hidden faces (perhaps a reference to identity), and an exaggerated figure are just a few of the similarities between these two artworks, but it is in its subtle differences that the transition from traumatic past to peaceful present can be witnessed.
In the first painting, we see a female figure that appears to be moving forward— the small space in front of her looks less contaminated by splats of color than that of the large space behind her, suggesting that she is slowly finding relief in the overpowering atmosphere that she currently resides in. Although her being is fighting the noise of her surroundings for dominance, it’s to little avail, as the colors of her past linger and bruise her up the arms, her back, and her torso; her trauma persists to take ownership of her.
Shift now to Stand Tall, and take note of the fact that the colors are no longer panned across the canvas, but exist softly within the figure's body. Yellow has been added to the palette, perhaps to represent an almost inner light. Her arm is reaching upwards, symbolizing a bright future; one in which she has embraced her trauma and moved on from it. She holds a strong pose, as though a victory was won. As a whole, the piece feels as though it’s saying, “My scars exist, but I have overcome them. This is me in my most vulnerable state, yet here I am exposing my true self to you because I am proud and I have overcome.”
Upon initial inquiry, Hernandez explained, “The...series is basically about the female body through the female gaze. It’s ugly but beautiful. It’s raw...inner emotion etched on the surface.”
Sometimes we are our harshest critics, and sometimes those around us spread the flame of doubt, fear, and anxiety that we harbor so deep within our being. Whichever the case, Hernandez’s message still remains: Keep pushing. Other earlier works are pictured below, harboring the same use of color and dramatic, powerful poses, but with a thicker paint application and bold outlines:
Since then, Hernandez’s style has drifted as her subjects have. From figurative expressionism to design-focused landscapes like the ones pictured below:
What remains the same between them is the use of a minimal color palette. In the landscapes the colors are flat, creating a sense of simplicity in her pieces that accomplishes as Hernandez reiterates, “my [recent] work is centered on creating feelings of calmness and tranquility.” Her delicate use of soft pastels and analogous colors, paired with a minimalistic style makes “peace” an easily readable actuality. Her lines in both the plants and background and dots throughout the cacti create focus and direction for our eyes to follow and immerse us within the artwork. Her inspiration arises from her childhood home which “has always been filled with an array of plant life...
I don't know about you but I feel these designs would make the most perfect notebook cover or postcard!
Thank you, Merilyn Hernandez, for bringing us into your little "peace" of the world with your landscapes and exposing hearts with your figurative expressionist paintings. Thank you once more for allowing me to feature your work on my page. I look forward to seeing your future creations.
If you'd like to join me in doing so, follow the link to her Instagram below. Feel free to comment or share. Feedback is greatly appreciated.
*PSA* Next post we're going to be introducing my friend and new Coauthor to this blog, Melissa! She has a passion for art such as I and has been a real help in completing today's feature. I look forward to future projects with her and I hope you'll come to know her sweet nature as much as much as I have. Have a pleasant day everyone!