Gabriella, is quite possibly the most extraordinary individual I've meet since moving to Santa Barbara. Words can't describe the energy that this womxn holds. It's fucking amazing. A warrior for equality & change.
◇ Gabriella Hernandez is currently living life on the road mainly on the West Coast ◇
• • Originally planted in Santa Barbara, CA • •
⇝ Check out her other projects & stay tuned for upcoming creative endeavors here ⇜
How was Bruja Medicine born?
Bruja Medicine was born from a vision I had to create a large scale visual art project that (at the time) focused on women’s empowerment. I ended up directing a photography project with 25 womxn at Burning Man 2016. From there, it seemed to grow very organically. I had other womxn reaching out to me to shoot and share their story. It wasn’t called Bruja Medicine at the time, that came much later. Years of cultural exploration and familial exploration lead me to that name but that’s a different story for a different day.
What impact do you desire to leave you audience with?
That’s a hard question because I know that everyone interprets and gets there own importance out of what others create. I suppose that my whole project has been centered around reclamation, desexualization of the human body and fierce feminine empowerment. I’ve focused a lot on inclusion and diversity in my body of work. I would love if people felt empowered in their own skin in seeing the ways that other womxn of all walks of life have shown up even when it was scary or edgy. I want people to feel inspired to have important conversations about racism, sizism and privilege that floods our media. I want womxn to love themselves so truly and deeply that the societal teachings or competition, internalized misogyny, shame and judgement become almost laughable. I want us to be able to look at our bodies as our friends, not our enemies. I want to encourage everyone to show up for the deeper work, to grow out of constricting belief systems and thrive in as our bad ass selves.
What has been the biggest inspiration for you to continue pursuing art?
Being mixed Mexican, for real.. It sounds silly or strange but my cultural heritage and the stories of my family are the things that push me to do better, be better, create bolder and dive in to the unknown. I am first gen. American, my mother is European and my father is from Mexico. I am very white passing and have a lot of privilege because of that. But it does not negate all of the very really struggles and sacrifices my family, on both sides, had to go through in order to be here and raise their kids here. That is what inspires me. I can’t waste it.
What inspires you and your creations/mission?
Shameless people, living their lives exactly how they please. Womxn who push boundaries. Non-binary folx who are changing the world. The reclamation of heritage and culture in a respectful way. That sort of thing. As well as my internal work. Learning to love myself. Taking responsibility for myself. Healing my traumas. Learning not to participate in spiritual by-pass. Ya know, the good stuff.
Gabriella on the Creative Process:
It is all fucking over the place. It hits in random moments and I don’t have a choice but to follow it blindly. I never plan, I never try to make something other than what the vision that comes through is. It takes over my whole being for days and days and can not be satisfied until its complete. I have very real dry spells. I won’t have inspiration for a project for weeks, and then all the sudden its all there in a complete and formulated plan.
And when its done, its really done. I can’t keep creating the same project once the inspiration is gone. I am not good at faking things or trying to make it work even if it doesn’t feel good. I just have to trust that my intuition knows what it is doing. With the photo project, it came to a clear end and even though it was growing and was seemingly successful, I couldn’t keep doing it once vision comes to completion. Even when it’s hard or seems absurd to quit while something is growing, I just had to trust that something better is coming. Or something like that.
When I heard about this art project it felt like a moment to expand the rules in my head; to release whatever subtle yet substantial limitations my mind held over my heart. It felt like a chance to let go of another barrier, belief or destructive self-concept that sought to deprive me of my birth right to self-compassion.
I wanted to celebrate my body alongside other bold and beautiful women. I wanted to reaffirm to myself and others that this unnatural yet necessary way of having bowel movements, while unconventional, did not isolate me from my femininity and fierce confidence in who I am.
I had some fears about how the photos would travel out into the world, across the mysterious avenues of the internet. But the doubts were small because my readiness was so big! This portable pouch has been my “front-butt” for 22 years, after an abscess near my anus impacted the integrity of my sphincter muscle, and then opened the flood gates for what became referred to as an inflammatory bowel disease. With the malfunction of this primary pooping muscle, I was given an unlikely miracle to journey back into relationship with myself.
Intense medical intervention after another, I was a young and deeply traumatized girl, who suppressed and repressed her emotions, dissociated and disconnected from her inner guidance, and felt trapped in a foreign and grotesque body. Over the past 7 years, I have gradually and profoundly reclaimed a friendship with my body, and over time found stillness and space in which to listen to it’s whispers of wisdom. I have recovered trust in my body as an ally, not an enemy. Each step of spiritual healing had lead me to this “yes” to be seen.
When it was time to undress, it was like jumping into a cold pool — I just went for it! No space to think. I felt a little shy at first, but the rawness of each woman helped me ground into the excitement of it all. From shame to self-honor, I stood on the playa in presence with poise.
In this experience, I stood for the first time nude amongst dozens of people, displaying without modifications, the authentic expression of my body and being. I felt exhilarated, peaceful, fluttering nerves, regal radiance, and ruthlessly me! It was a pinnacle moment to stand separate from the line of women, which I did not expect at all! I had kept this freakish secret tightly hidden from my peers and public, for twenty years — that was, until I returned home from Burning Man with these creative images of courage, to share across social media! I finally felt free to share all of me. My femininity and fierce confidence in who I am!
The impact of standing together with these sisters, and later prostrating in devotion upon the Earth, was one of the most moving and memorable instances of my life. With my forehead pressed against the white dusty ground, and Lala showering us with powerful praise, a tremendous wave of grief and gratitude expressed as a poignantly cleansing cry. It was a gift to be with these women, each of whom were expressions of forgiveness, radical acceptance and unfathomable self-love. Simply being seen, as I am, is a gift of pure love.
Fearless Warrior of Compassion
Dont miss Gabriella Hernandez x Aiyana Sage's Immersive Art Installation on Sex & Death:
August 11th // 6-11pm
✦ Get Tickets HERE ✦