Artist, teacher and U.S. Army veteran Gina Herrera (Pueblo of Tesuque) will join us for the next Travois First Fridays event on Friday, Aug. 3, featuring large sculptural works from her “A Fanciful Escapade” exhibition.
Gina’s talent and dedication to service shine in all aspects of her life. She served 20+ years in the U.S. military. While working on her BFA in art education from the School of Art Institute of Chicago, Gina was deployed overseas with the U.S. Army. Once her final tour was complete, she went back to school and obtained her MFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Today, she guides and inspires our youth as an art teacher in California at Arvin High School and an adjunct professor at Bakersfield College.
In her artist statement, she states: “While my heritage incorporates the Tesuque Pueblo and Costa Rica, my strongest affinity is to nature. While serving in Iraq, amid the devastation of combat, my visceral reaction to miles of mountainous trash heaps, the evidence of systematic yet unconscious destruction of our planet led me to question my own practices. I began to build assemblages out of discarded and natural objects. I am engaged in an aesthetic and spiritual ritual to channel and honor Mother Earth.”
As a graduate student, she was awarded a Provost Fellowship, an MFA scholarship and was nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant Program in 2012. She also received a full Native American Residency Fellowship from the Harpo Foundation to attend the Vermont Studio Center in 2013.
Her artist statement continues, “I constantly gather materials, finding inspiration in my surroundings. Like a scavenger, I play an interventional role in removing garbage from the landscape, preventing further damage. I am also drawn to natural materials and organic forms. My process is meditative and intuitive. Figures emerge, in gravity defying poses on the brink of movement, alive with possibility. Their haunting spiritual presence reminds us they have not gone back to the earth but asks us to question the choices we make in our daily existence.”
Gina has received many awards for her work. She has received grants from the Harold and Ruth Chenven Foundation and Puffin Foundation, is a seventeen-time ArtSlant Prize Showcase Winner, a recipient of a Merit Award from Art Kudos, and received an Award of Excellence from Manhattan Arts International.
Gina has exhibited nationally and extensively in California, where she currently resides. We can’t wait for her to join us in Kansas City!