In her new coffee table book We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World, Jasmin Hernandez wants to inspire young Gen Z-ers of color through the example set by artists and curators such as Derrick Adams, Firelei Báez, Genevieve Gaignard, Naima J. Keith, and Jasmine Wahi.
We Are Here, out this month from Abrams Books, “is like a guide book, or a manifesto, or source book, saying, ‘You can enter, you can enter,’” Hernandez told Artnet News. “These are 50 ways of how we did it. Here are 50 tales and narratives of how everyone did it.”
The author came to know many of the artists and creatives featured in the book over the course of writing her blog Gallery Gurls, which she launched in 2012. In that time, many have exploded to art stardom, offering them unprecedented visibility in the traditionally insular, white-male-dominated art world.
Gallery Gurls was inspired by a continuing education course that Hernandez took at Sotheby’s Institute. She co-founded it with the only other Black woman in the class as a way to seek out and highlight artists of color and women artists—the voices that were notably absent.
Jasmin Hernandez. Photo by Sunny Leerasanthanah.
Looking back, things have changed quite a bit in the nine years since. “I knew that the tide would turn and gates would open,” she said. “As with everything in this country, it just takes time. We see it in Hollywood with this Black renaissance in film and TV, and the art world is no different.”
The book offers a series of mini studio visits, with photographs by Jasmine Durhal and Sunny Leerasanthanah and an interview with the artist about their practice. (The photoshoots took place in 2019.)
A number of the artists had previously been featured on the Gallery Gurls blog, but she also sought out new voices, particularly among, queer, trans, and nonbinary artists of color, such as KT Pe Benito, a non-binary New York artist who Hernandez discovered on Instagram.
“I didn’t play art-world politics. I didn’t think ‘this can only be Black and Brown superstar artists from the Chelsea blue-chip galleries,’” she said. “I also looked at nightlife. I looked to ballroom. I looked at street art and graffiti and unrepresented artists.”
The book also strives to be intergenerational, featuring trailblazers such as Renée Cox and Lola Flash, both in their early 60s, as well as emerging figures, such as 25-year-old Uzumaki Cepeda.
<img class="size-large wp-image-1947167" src="https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/see-inside-a-beautiful-new-coffee-table-book-celebrating-50-leading-artists-and-curators-of-color-2.jpg" alt="We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World by Jasmin Hernandez. Courtesy of Abrams Books. ” width=”824″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://massive.news/wp-content/uploads/see-inside-a-beautiful-new-coffee-table-book-celebrating-50-leading-artists-and-curators-of-color-2.jpg 824w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/02/WeAreHere_Cover-241×300.jpg 241w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/02/WeAreHere_Cover-40×50.jpg 40w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/02/WeAreHere_Cover-1545×1920.jpg 1545w” sizes=”(max-width: 824px) 100vw, 824px”>
We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World by Jasmin Hernandez. Courtesy of Abrams Books.
“Cepeda is a Dominican artist from the Bronx. She’s completely self-made, has no art degree,” said Hernandez. “Her social media presence is her power, and her work is experimental and out of the box. She’s an outsider who made it and didn’t need art-world gatekeepers to give her opportunities.”
Hernandez hopes We Are Here will become a series. “This should not be like the one book that we get in 2021 because of what happened in 2020,” she said. “The door is not ajar—it’s been kicked open. And more are coming.”
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