yasmin hernandez welcome




Mothers, Daughters, Survivors, Ancestors

Mixed media Installation
14' L x 14' W x 10' H
4th Annual Encuentro, "Spectacles of Religiosity"
Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics
New York University, New York, NY

This piece was inspired by my upbringing within the Espiritismo tradition. It was also inspired by the number of losses experienced within my family. I wanted to dedicate the installation to the spirits of women, past and present and to their struggles and triumphs as survivors. The purpose was to honor all women as sacred beings--from holy virgins, saints and orishas, to our mothers, sisters and ourselves. Incorporating the Yoruba concept of "ori", this installation demanded that viewers and participants acknowledge the divine force within themselves. For this reason images like Santa Madre and Mamita of my mother and mother-in-law respectively were set up as sacred portraits, depicting both figures in every-day clothing. Also included were Yemaya as the orisha of motherhood and Oshun, the Orisha of love and sensuality.

We chose to keep the lights off in the gallery with just candle light and a small spot light on each altar. During the opening we burned incense. The goal was to create a sacred space where viewers could reflect on the spirit present. The beaded curtains pictured here was a last minute detail I added. I wanted to create and intimate space but because the installation was set up in a large room it felt too open. The curtains helped create the sense of a separate, sacred space that one could inhabit. Goddesses was originally conceived as an interactive installation where conference participants would contribute personal items that reminded them of an influential woman in their lives. Although we had some contributions, we didn't have too many probably because many of the participants traveled from different countries, particularly Mexico, Brazil and Peru. Another idea that fell through due to scheduling conflicts was to have a ceremony where participants who contributed objects to the piece could share testimonials of the female spirits in their lives. My goal is to have this installation travel and to record the dynamics that viewers contribute to its meaning and significance.