JASMIN HERNANDEZ

Photo credit: Tamara Beckwith

Photo credit: Tamara Beckwith

 

You're an arts writer - can you go into a little detail about what that entails, and why you do what you do?

My trade and bread and butter is being a photo editor and producer, which I’ve been doing for the past eleven years. But as a freelance arts writer, I basically see 80% of the contemporary art currently on display, post what I absolutely love on my Instagram, and decide from those posts what makes it to Gallery Gurls and what I pitch to magazines. But it's never that straightforward; ideas come in all ways and I also have incredible contributors who write awesome pieces and expand the female-focused arts coverage on the site. It's not a burden for me to work a full-time gig, come home from work, and still publish a post or spend time researching an artist. I’m having fun the whole time. It's fun for me to attend gallery receptions, museum openings, museum galas, take a few days to marinate on the art I’ve seen, live life, and then get inspired to write. 

 
Photo credit: Cidney Hue

Photo credit: Cidney Hue

 

In your opinion, what needs to change in the art world? Do you think it's possible to achieve that change? If so, what would need to happen to get there?

The art world is overwhelmingly white, and you need black and brown decision-makers as a core part of the institutional leadership: as acting museum trustees, on museum boards and committees, and on curatorial staffs. When I walk into galleries in New York City, I want to see more young black and brown gallerinas. There is a whole generation of young people of color, born in the ‘80s and ‘90s, qualified and ready with all the necessary degrees. Hire them, add more money to your budget, increase fellowship stipends, offer paid internships. Because of socio-economic factors, white, middle-class younger people can accept the unpaid internship, which then lead to full-time jobs, and because of historic financial disadvantages that people of color have faced, its just more hoops of fire we have to jump through.

 
Photo credit: Cidney Hue

Photo credit: Cidney Hue

 

Let's talk about Gallery Gurls - what inspired you to start it? Why is Gallery Gurls necessary in the art world?

I’ve been consuming contemporary art since my undergraduate years at Parsons, all over New York City and the globe. I reached a point where it was time to put these feelings down and share them. I want Gallery Gurls to be a collection of these stories: female artists in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, pushing for social justice, intersectional feminism, and just creating stellar, visually-provocative work.

 

What's your favorite thing about running Gallery Gurls? Can you think of particularly favorite moments that make all the hard work worth it?

My favorite part is getting excited about new content and whatever artist interview I’m planning next. I roam Instagram 24/7; I love saving posts for inspiration and future content ideas. I like thinking about the next interview, the research process, thinking of fun questions to ask, thinking of the opening sentence and a catchy headline. I’m a true editorialist and I really revel in the editorial process. A great moment was celebrating five years of my website at Twitter’s headquarters in August. I led a panel on inclusion for women of color in art and media spaces with leaders like Marquita Harris, Jasmine Wahi, Janel Martinez, and Ayana Evans. That was a very special night and we had a wonderful turnout. 

 
Photo credit: Tamara Beckwith

Photo credit: Tamara Beckwith

 

What was the hardest part about starting Gallery Gurls? Were there any notable challenges that you had to overcome?

I think the hardest part was finding my voice and niche. It took time to cultivate the site and the Gallery Gurls brand. I thought, "Ok, so I want to start a site about women in the art world, so what? How is my site different from others?" When you read a post on Gallery Gurls, it’s non-academic, not very long, and I try to select the most dynamic women killing it in the art world right now. I naturally focus on women of color, that’s a no-brainer, and it has to be done. Period. 

 

What's the importance of intersectional feminism in today's political climate?

White male patriarchy is as ferocious and terrifying as ever. With our current misogynist-in-chief, white women (because of their racial privilege) need to wholeheartedly embrace women of color, cisgender women need to get behind transgender women (especially transgender women of color as they are the most vulnerable and oppressed). This also translates to Latinxs/LatinAmericans. White Latinxs/Latinamericans need to once and for all include Afro-Latinos in all spaces of society. But not everyone will change and not everyone wants to be educated, and too many people are comfortable, complacent, and complicit with their privilege, which is why we have to wait decades for progress. 

 
Photo credit: Jasmin Hernandez

Photo credit: Jasmin Hernandez

 

Is there a woman you admire in the art world right now? Who is it, and what is she doing that you admire?

Yes! It’s Elia Alba, a first-generation, Dominican-American contemporary artist who is woke as fuck. One of her practices is photography, and she shoots glam portraits of artists of color who are impacting and shaping the art world. Her portraits are nuanced, layered, and show diversity within black and brown artists including African, African-American, Asian, Latinx, etc. She currently has an exhibit up now called The Supper Club on view at The 8th Floor in New York City. To me she is a goddess because I’ve never met a US-born, Latinx, Dominican-American female so prominent in the art space. 

 

Do you ever have times where you feel creatively defeated/uninspired? How do you get through those moments?

Sometimes I get caught up in not doing enough or things aren't moving fast enough, but my sanity and well-being matter too, because you need that energy for the next endeavor. There are a lot of content creators and digital influencers in the virtual space and I can’t compare my journey to others. I’m also not fooled by whatever I see posted on Instagram. So I move at my pace, treat myself to indulgences, and remain focused for the overall strategy. When you sit down and look back you actually got shit done.

 
Photo credit: Cidney Hue

Photo credit: Cidney Hue

 

What's up next for you? Long-term, what's one of your biggest creative goals? What steps have you taken already to achieve that goal?

I want to become a full-on culture writer. I will continue to write about women in the art world on my website and for online and print outlets, but I want to expand into fashion, cinema, and celebrity profiles. I have a profile on a major American fashion designer coming out in December, as well as a piece on a Warhol Superstar and trans icon from the early '70s, and earlier in the year I interviewed the accomplished arthouse filmmaker James Crump about the documentary he made about the Latinx fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. I will continue to pursue those kinds of projects. I also want to start writing essays in high-end coffee table books on art and fashion. 

 

If you could leave our readers (mostly young women) with one main message, what would it be?

Don't sit on an idea. Just do it. There is no excuse now when you have tools like social media and do-it-yourself web platforms to present your work online. It may not be perfect at first execution, but you will refine, polish, and learn over time. Look at what others are doing and those you are inspired by, but customize the approach for you. And also drown yourself in the research process. Read a lot. Read everything. 

 

 

Check Jasmin out on Instagram and her website.

And check out her Ten Facts feature here.