This small town symbolized the archetype of pastoral American life. Yet this idyllic place was also held hostage by a dark past, manifesting in the racial tensions that scar much of American history.
Andrea Hernandez was born in Florida, United States, and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. After graduating from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello with a degree in Journalism, she worked for El Estímulo, a local web media. Specializing in multimedia publications, one of her pieces merited a grant by the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation in 2017. The same year, she was part of the team given the best news coverage award by the Sociedad Interamericana de la Prensa and she was honored with the Golden Scarf by the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop staff at Mexico City. She recently completed the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism Program at the International Center of Photography in New York, where she was elected by faculty and students to give the commencement speech at the graduation ceremony. She was shortlisted for the Lucie Foundation Emerging Artist Scholarship, participated in the XXXI Eddie Adams Workshop, was selected as a Women Photograph Mentee for the class of 2018-2019 and chosen for the International Women’s Media Fund 2019 Adelante Fellowship.
Like almost everyone that tries to explain the unexplainable in tropical lands, I think about magical realism when I make images. But in Venezuela, the fantastic is enveloped by smoke from car exhaust pipes and factual photographs just don’t cut it. In this place, mood is king – or queen.
I believe that invisible things have a space in visual storytelling. Right now, my work consists on showing the lethargy that wraps up a country smothered by a deep social and economic crisis. I photographed protests, violence and hunger for a while, but this work got lost in the grid. It was too ephemeral. Then, I explored several issues through this medium and through writing until I realized that abstraction was my path. So now I get rid of everything that is not essential to making a point. This helps me see things more clearly.
In a place where most affairs are shady, I try to highlight stories that represent what is happening in my country through the beauty that walks hand in hand with the dignity of subjects. This is what I made my main concern when I decided to come back home after studying a year at the International Center of Photography, where I was elected as commencement speaker for the 2018 class. Since my graduation in June, I’ve worked with news outlets such as The Washington Post, Buzzfeed News and El País. Awards such as the 2017 Golden Scarf by the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop staff and the Best News Coverage by the Inter American Press Society have bulked up my confidence and pushed me to go further. Now, I’m developing stories through the Women Photograph Mentorship Program 2018-2019 and for the International Women’s Media Fund Adelante Fellowship of 2019. Through these opportunities I will cultivate a vision that estranges from the ascetic journalism that we are used to and will fuse storytelling to the spirit once again.