Judithe Hernández first won acclaim as a muralist during the Los Angeles mural renaissance of the 1970s and as a member of the celebrated Chicano artist collective Los Four. They would become a major force in the Chicano Art Movement and the first Chicano artists to break through the mainstream museum barrier. Together with Carlos Almaraz she painted murals for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union, as well as the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects in East Los Angeles where they painted a pair of the first feminist empowerment murals.
Her career as a solo artist moved to the national level in 1983 with a solo exhibition at the 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, which unmoors any illustrative limits of the genre.” The legendary art historian, Margarita Nieto has also noted, ".... (her work) speaks of the problematic and ephemeral situation of woman hidden in her masks of roles…Hernández’ paintings speak to those masks in an extraordinary combination of darkness and color, enhanced by a subconscious precognition of a mythic past."
Over her 50-year career, she has established a significant record of exhibition and acquisition of her work by major public institutions and private collections; which include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia; the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the UCI Museum/Institute for California Art, Irvine; and the Bank of America. She has been the recipient of the prestigious University of Chicago Artist-in-Residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, & Culture, the C.O.L.A. Fellowship, and the Sor Juana Legacy Award for “outstanding lifetime contributions to the arts” by the National Museum of Mexican Art.
In 2018, Hernández became the first American-born Latina to be honored with a solo exhibition and acquisition of her work by the Museum of Latin American Art. After 40 years, her artistic presence returned to downtown Los Angeles this year 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 in March 2020.