Ana Fernandez

Ana Fernandez, a local Mexican-American painter, recently unveiled a new exhibit at The Institute of Texan Cultures. Dr. Harriett Romo and Dr. Ricardo Romo donated eight pieces of her work to the museum.

The exhibit features eight paintings and a video about how Fernandez creates her art, both of which will be on display until Jan. 20, 2013. Fernandez’s exhibition marks the ninth (out of 12) artist exhibit featured in the institute’s “Texas Contemporary Artists Series.”

Fernandez’s works are best described in her own words. “The content of my series contains some of my favorite subjects: magic, true crime, paranormal activity, love, murder, mythology, witchcraft and superstition, all set in the neighborhoods of my hometown.”

“I combine familiar domestic elements with subtle, sometimes eerie, hints of the unknown. I would describe it as naturalistic and realistic with elements of the fantastic or supernatural,” Fernandez says.

Fernandez’s creative process involves “driving through neighborhoods for subject matter.”

“Sometimes I stop to photograph a particular house for no reason,” she says. “It could be a feeling that I have, or the way the light hits it.  My method is random. I capture images, then sort through the ones I think will work as a painting. I mix and match houses with various objects that I have found: animals, cars, decorations, etc. A huge part of the creative process for me is thinking and reading about things that interest or inspire me.”

Regarding the institute’s “Contemporary Artists Series,” exhibition curator Arturo Almeida explains, “Texas is fast becoming one of the most progressive and exciting art scenes on the horizon. The selected artists (in this series) cover a broad spectrum of artistic styles and mediums. Common to all their work, however, is the bold vision and unbridled exuberance that is the quintessence of Texan culture.” Some artists previously exhibited include Carmen Oliver, Leigh Ann Lester, Luis Valderas, Henry Cardenas and Luis M. Garza.

Fernandez herself received a B.F.A in art from the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.F.A. in art from the University of California in Los Angeles. She grew up in Corpus Christi and moved to San Antonio in 2009. Fernandez, who identifies as a lesbian, says, “Everything-including my ethnicity, childhood, background, etc.-impacts my work in one way or another but is not something that I consciously try to do…I don’t see my art as activism of any kind.”

Another one of Fernandez’s paintings is currently on display at the McNay. UTSA students can visit the Institute of Texan Cultures anytime for free and visit the McNay for free on Thursdays. Both locations are roughly a 15-minute drive from the UTSA main campus and the UTSA downtown campus respectively. More information about Fernandez, her paintings and her showings can be found at .

In addition to photography and painting, Fernandez expresses her creativity through cooking. To that end, she currently runs a food truck called “The Institute of Chili.”

“The chili queens were San Antonio’s original mobile food vendors. For over 200 years, these Mexican-American women sold chili con carne and other Tex-Mex classics in the plazas of downtown San Antonio. They were even said to have invented Tex-Mex,” Fernandez says. “At my food truck, The Institute of Chili, we pay homage to the original chili queens by bringing their legacy into the 21st century.”

Menu items include Chili Queens Chili, Costillas (seared beef short ribs), The Bomb (brisket on a bun) and The Roosevelt (pork tamales). More information about The Institute of Chili can be found at .

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