Rematriating Borikén is born from Yasmin Hernandez’ own rematriation to her ancestral homeland in 2014. Brooklyn-born and raised, Yasmin’s art navigates notions of motherland/ otherland. Searching the abyss that spreads in between for ancestral wisdom, she raises liberatory narratives repressed by racism and conquest. Since the mid-1990s her art practice, activism and praxis have been firmly rooted in global liberation struggles, especially that of her homeland.
Yasmin attended the LaGuardia High School of the Arts in Manhattan and holds a BFA in Painting from Cornell University. Committed to art as a healing and liberation strategy, she has worked as a teaching artist with Taller Puertorriqueño in Philadelphia, El Museo del Barrio, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and has taught art to Pre K-12th grade students in Aguadilla. Her project Bieké: Tierra de Valientes celebrated dozens of activists who struggled to end US Navy bombing practices on their island and sparked her fascination with bioluminescence. In 2017 she was invited to exhibit in the “Puerto Rico Bundle” of Occupy Museums’ Debt Fair installation at The Whitney Biennial. Months later she and her family endured twin hurricanes Irma and María and their aftermath. Images of Soldaderas, her East Harlem mural honoring Julia de Burgos, Frida Kahlo and Puerto Rican/ Mexican solidarity, were circulated as part of various hurricane/ earthquake relief efforts. Living through four months without electricity, the fireflies of those dark nights reignited her interest in bioluminescence which continues to inform her art.
Rematriating Borikén was born from the 2016 blog where Yasmin began chronicling the journey home. In May of 2019, commemorating five years in Borikén, she was called to channel the light of another form of bioluminescence, that of the deep-sea creatures found in the Puerto Rico Trench, and she wrote the Manifesto that would inspire this project. The deep sea, with zero sunlight, minimal oxygen, but still thriving with life, becomes metaphor for our homeland that all say is virtually uninhabitable due to its economy strangled by colonialism, and climate change. Inspired by the mysteries of our own natural environment, Rematriating Borikén works to reclaim and assert our homeland as the sacred womb, rejecting continued colonial miseducation that still imposes fear and self-loath.
Yasmin lives and works in Aguada in northwest Borikén with her husband, their two sons and her recently rematriated mother. For more information on her art, visit http://www.yasminhernandezart.com.
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