30 Under 35 2019

Monica Hernandez Uses Social Media to Expand the Female Gaze

Elizabeth Karp-Evans

Photography by Aubrey Mayer

Monica Hernandez
Monica Hernandez at her Queens studio, 2018.

Monica Hernandez’s flowing, flowering figures are spread large across the canvas, unadorned, unabashed, and usually representative of the artist or women she knows. Hernandez found her voice long before graduating from Hunter College with a BFA last year. Her confidence in her own image is as sanguine as her sunset-hued oil-on-canvas “scenes” depicting brown men and women eating, praying, bathing and sleeping. “I love becoming a part of this history of painting, in my own way,” says Hernandez. “I would like my art to be honest, transparent, in whatever it is trying to say or do. I want it to be vulnerable and open.”

Hernandez is from the Dominican Republic and moved to New York with her family when she was six years old. In a world where the view of the female figure is changing daily, she is a keen adapter. Her not-always-so-popular Instagram account now has more than 70,000 followers. “I’m treating Instagram like its own art piece. Challenging how we represent ourselves,” she says. As with her painting, the power of the female gaze is refreshing and ever-present in the images she posts—of her art, friends, and mainly, herself.

2019 should be a breakout year for Hernandez. Free of expectations and restrictions brought on by school and full-time employment—as well as the structure and support they provide—Hernandez does not hesitate when asked about the future. “I feel like I’m becoming more confident in my voice and what I have to share. I’m more open to experimenting.”