During the tumultuous early 1970s, Judithe Hernández first won acclaim as a member of the celebrated Chicano artist collective Los Four. The collective would become a major force in the Chicano Art Movement and the first Chicano artists to break through the mainstream museum barrier. After graduating from Otis Art Institute in 1974, she and Carlos Almaraz, also a Los Four member, earned recognition as muralists during the renowned Los Angeles mural renaissance of the 1970's. Together they painted murals for labor rights leader Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union, as well as community murals, such as the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects in East Los Angeles where they painted a pair of the first feminist empowerment murals.
While in graduate school, her mentor was the legendary African American artist, Charles White. His influence and encouragement to pursue her interest in social realism art was critical to her later work. Like White, she shared a love of drawing which resulted in a studio practice dedicated to works on paper. Following graduation from Otis, her inclusion in museum and gallery exhibitions in California began immediately with landmark exhibitions at the Oakland Museum, "In Search of Aztlan" and "The Aesthetics of Graffiti" at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
By 1983 her career moved to the national level with a solo exhibition at the venerable Cayman Gallery in New York making her the first Chicana to extend her artistic reach beyond the West coast. The international significance of her work came in 1989 with the first exhibition of Chicano art in Europe, Les Démon des Anges. Hernández was one of sixteen artists (one of three women) who’s work was part of this ground-breaking exhibition.
Her studio practice has been devoted to the lush pastel paintings for which she is best known. Christopher Knight, the Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize winning art critic has written, “…Hernández’s art is churned by her marvelous color sense” and the legendary art historian, Margarita Nieto has also noted, "...(Her work)...speaks of woman hidden in her masks of roles.…in an extraordinary combination of darkness and color, enhanced by a subconscious precognition of a mythic past" and more recently, Terra Scholar UCLA historian, Charlene Villaseñor Black, has characterized Hernández as one of the two “most important women artists to emerge from East L.A. during El Movimiento.”
Over her 53-year career, she has established a significant record of exhibitions and acquisitions of her work by major public institutions and private collections which include: the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia; the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin TX; the UCI Museum/Institute for California Art; the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture; the AltaMed Collection and the Bank of America. She has been the recipient of the prestigious Artist-in-Residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, & Culture, University of Chicago; the City of Los Angeles Artist Fellowship (C.O.L.A.) and the Anonymous Was a Women Grant.
After more than 40 years, her artistic presence returned to downtown Los Angeles in 2019 when her seven-story mural “La Nueva Reina de Los Angeles” was installed at La Plaza Village one block north of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument District.
2023 / 2024
2023 / EXHIBITIONS
APRIL 14 - SEPTEMBER 3. 2023
EL PASO MUSEUM OF ART
"A Dream is the Shadow of Something Real: Women in Art," Dede Rogers Gallery
2023 / SPECIAL EVENT
MAY 23, 2023
LEGACY ARTIST HONOREE
50th Anniversary Gala / Self Help Graphics & Art
2023 / EXHIBITIONS
OCTOBER 4, 2022 - JANUARY 8, 2023
THE SAN ANTONIO MUSEUM OF ART
"Traitor, Survivor, Icon: the Legacy of La Malinche and the Conquest of Mexico,"
2023 / DIGITAL EXHIBITION
INSTITUTE OF FINE ARTS, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
"Five Decades of Chicane Muralism in Los Angeles"
2024 / EXHIBITIONS
FEB 3, 2024
THE CHEECH MARIN CENTER FOR CHICANO ART & CULTURE
"Beyond Myself, Some Where, I Wait for My Arrival,"
Second Floor Galleries
June 18, 2022 - Opening of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture