Sydney is a city full of art and art galleries. It’s also a city with many blank walls. Art & About Sydney and Elliott Routledge of Funstudio have collaborated to bring the two closer together. Their first project is To be free is to have no fear, a work by Sydney artist Nadia Hernandez.
Hernandez makes a bold statement on a wall on Loftus Lane behind Customs House. And there will be more projects like it, as Art & About Sydney continues its year-round programming. We asked Nadia to tell us more:
What inspired To be free is to have no fear? What is your message with the work?
The idea for To be free is to have no fear came from Nina Simone. She once said in an interview, “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me… no fear!”
These words really stayed in my mind as I tried to mark the times of absolute freedom I have experienced. I want to believe in the statement, I want to be encouraged by it. I wonder how other people perceive freedom. To me, the statement is a reminder for this idea to be a part of your day to day, to celebrate, to be bold and to be daring.
What inspires your broader practice?
My practice is inspired by folklore mostly from my home country, Venezuela. I arrived in Australia when I was 16 and prior to that I had lived in Arizona. A large portion of my family still lives in Venezuela and I’m constantly looking back, holding on to the stories, the memories and the rich culture that still exists despite 17 years of political turmoil and corruption, to say the least. Folklore is important to me because it is what binds a culture together. My work is about finding oneself through folklore in order to call for reflection, solidarity and union.
Do you reflect your heritage in your work? Why?
I’m constantly reflecting and paying homage to my heritage in my work. I left Venezuela when I was 9, but the memories and experiences I had as a child have deeply informed my practice. It’s difficult to leave the familiar and grow up away from your family. I wanted to retain that part of me, as a way to comment, question and explore what was happening politically and socially in my home country, but also as a way to remain close to my relatives.
What is your background as an artist and how does street art fit into this?
My background expands across various disciplines, including textiles, design, collage and painting. Street art fits into the message and ideas behind the work that I create, which to me, are not limited by any medium.
What for you is exciting or interesting about street art?
The most interesting thing about street art is that it is accessible and free, anyone can see it, at any moment and time.
It is social, it is for everyone and essentially since my work is about bringing people together and reflecting on the self, working publicly and on a large scale is as personal and exciting as it comes.
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