Bay Area Walls commission
March 7, 2021–September 5, 2022
Conjuro para la sanación de nuestro futuro (A spell for the healing of our future) depicts milagros, small icons made of various materials that Catholic devotees place on saints’ robes or in shrines to request help or in gratitude for answered prayers. This tradition of ex-votos, or miracle charms, extends beyond conventional Catholicism in many parts of the world. Although the artist attended parochial school, she rejects Catholicism’s rigidity and patriarchy, instead connecting to spirituality through healing rituals such as limpias (cleanses), egg readings, and metaphysical communication—syncretic practices influenced by Indigenous traditions of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. These traditions were passed down to Hernández by her grandmother and the older women who led the iglesia popular (people’s church) they attended in Mexico.
Here Hernández presents symbols and texts that reference our collective moment: lungs represent life and the air we breathe, polluted as our forests burn; hands, now associated with infection, are also used to nurture and answer calls for aid; eyes include cellphones and cameras, which seek the truth and bear witness to injustice. Together this collection of images summons a higher power to sustain our community’s health and future and reminds us that we are all connected. For Hernández, this higher power is not intended to be “God” as a single force, but rather our shared existence; the living world and everything included in it.
Major support for Bay Area Walls is provided by the SFMOMA Roberta and Steve Denning Commissioning Endowed Fund.
Generous support is provided by the Mary Jane Elmore West Coast Exhibition Fund, Randi and Bob Fisher, the Patricia W. Fitzpatrick Commissioning Endowed Fund, Katie Hall and Tom Knutsen, the Elaine McKeon Endowed Exhibition Fund, the Diana Nelson and John Atwater Commissioning Fund, and the Denise Littlefield Sobel Commissioning Endowed Fund.
Additional support is provided by Alka and Ravin Agrawal, Oya and Bulent Eczacibasi, and Linda and Jon Gruber in memory of Gretchen Berggruen.