Edmari Hernandez is a 26 year-old painter. She was born in Puerto Rico and has lived around the world, including Europe and Germany. She has an exhilarating passion for the ocean and the environment. She currently expresses that love through her artwork. You can find her work at on instagram and her website.
“My work explores a personal connection with the aquatic environment of the ocean as it is a part of my homes, the island of Puerto Rico and Florida. Corals, aquatic plants, and fish endure throughout most of the pictured environments of my work despite the constant changes imposed onto the environment. I wish to raise awareness of the importance and preservation of our oceans.”
Edmari Hernandez Silen
[RADX:] Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork?
[Edmari:] At this time it comes from the inspiration of my interaction with the ocean environment. I’m from Puerto Rico originally and I would go snorkeling. I would travel around to certain beaches to see what was going on. When you are in Florida the best place to check out…are the Keys. I did that for a couple of years growing up and I’ve noticed the change over the years. It’s more-so my reflection about the changes and how I’ve seen it personally grow. How it has changed the environment and will also eventually affect us.
My goal is to create awareness. When you look closely at some of the work I have it also reveals (aspects) that are dead. It makes you wonder why there are ones alive and beautiful next to the ones that are bleached and dying.
[RADX:] Do you go snorkeling a lot and take pictures of coral reefs?
[Edmari:] A lot of my imagery does come from snorkeling. I take a lot of reference photos when I’m there. I enjoy the moment but I take a lot of snap shot photos when I’m there. Most of the images are mine. I might tweak the colors out or put more emphasis on one. Sometimes I might look up what type of coral or fish I saw. It helps me visualize what I saw and the angle in which I saw it in. I also like to combine imagery. I might see a coral reef over here and I like the one over there. I’ll try to combine them into one piece.
[RADX:] When did art become a passion for you?
[Edmari:] I started young. I grew up in a bilingual home. My father was in the military and we traveled a lot. The best way I could express and communicate is drawing it out. We lived in Europe and Germany for a while (and) I believe it set my interest for the art world. (There) was so much public art such as churches and museums.
[RADX:] Are you originally from Puerto Rico?
[Edmari:] Yes I was born in 1992. I wasn’t there for long. My family is from there. We always go back to visit every year or two years. After Hurricane Maria happened it’s been more difficult. Mainly because we are trying to help support our family. I’m very close with my family over there. I love being in Florida because it’s a plane ride away.
[RADX:] What does being a painter mean to you?
[Edmari:] It means having a voice. There’s writing and music. For me it’s painting. It helps me relieve a lot of emotions onto the canvas. For those who are visual, it helps me show you visually what I’m trying to say.
[RADX:] What are the mediums that you use for your paintings?
[Edmari:] One of them is the surface. Some people like to paint on canvas or panel. I like to use Ugo paper. It’s a recycled plastic paper from the company Yupo. It doesn’t absorb the paint. The paint sits on top making it very pigmented and saturated. Other mediums I use are collaging or print making. I try to combine imagery. I use that more so in my grad school work at the University of South Carolina.
[RADX:] What’s the name of your Coral Reef Collection?
[Edmari:] It was my thesis show. It was called A-Hogar. Hogar- meaning home , Ahogar means to drown. For that series it’s about my interaction with the ocean. There can be a fear of drowning or the fear of the unknown. Sometimes, I reference it as my seafloor series.
[RADX:] Do you have any scheduled art exhibitions coming up?
[Edmari:] Yes. It will be at Word Revolt Gallery in Neptune Beach in February. The show is entitled “Submerge”. It will be focused on the coral reefs. You have the beauty in front of you, but behind all that is something hidden that’s trying to reveal itself.The ugly truth is just around the corner.
I’m also having a show prior at FSCJ in January. This one will be a lot of my old pieces finally getting exposure again. Both shows will have a similar theme of the ocean.
[RADX:] What advice would you give your younger self?
[Edmari:] I would just say don’t fret. That it’s going to be okay. You don’t have to worry too much about taking breaks, changing up the style or theme, follow with what feels best. Don’t be afraid to experiment again. Keep making the work and enjoy the work.
[RADX:] Did you receive any opposition from your parents/family when you told them you wanted to major in art?
[Edmari:] Surprisingly, my parents were very supportive. I believe because they chose the military style of life they couldn’t finish what they wanted to do. They later ended up getting married, having kids, and life happened. They still are happy with where they are.. My parents are now going back to school and taking classes at their own pace. I find myself lucky because they’ve always known I like art and to draw. When I told them I was going to pursue art – they fully supported me. My parents told me if I was going to, to (just) do it. Once I have my Bachelors, master It. They were big supporters.
[RADX:] Besides doing art shows, what are other ways you use and show your art talent?
[Edmari:] I currently work at Painting with a Twist. It’s a fun art gig. I love teaching. I aspire to become an instructor on the college level. I also aspire to making my work. It’s a slow process, but I feel so fulfilled when I make it.
I’m baby stepping it. I’m getting married next year. I’m trying to reach certain milestones, one step out of a time.
[RADX:] Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
[Edmari:] I hopeto be back in the teaching groove. I want to be making big work again, working in a large studio. Also to start taking risk. I need to get several exhibitions under my belt to start getting my name out in Jacksonville. Then eventually start being confident to go for the big exhibitions. I’ll be happy as long as I’m still making my work. I want to go big scale.
[RADX:] Do you have any role models?
[Edmari:] Artists I like to follow are Courtney Madison, a ceramic sculptor. In Jacksonville, I really enjoy the work of Dustin Harewood. He’s a very talented and easy to talk to artist. Also my family really inspires and pushes me. Especially my great grandmother in Puerto Rico. She’s a woman who’s seen it all. She always tells me to go in with an open heart.
[RADX:] What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue the arts?
[Edmari:] That it’s tougher than you think. You have to figure out what your drivers are and how important it is to you. That’s when you start making your best work.
[RADX:] Do you have any other ambitions outside of painting?
[Edmari:] I’m working on getting my diving certifications and trying to do some advocacy for the environment. I was supposed to be doing some volunteering to clean up at Neptune beach. The project got canceled due to the hurricane. I want to support being good to our home. If we are bad to it, it’ll eventually be bad to us. We have to take care of our planet.
[RADX:] What’s your favorite piece of art?
[Edmari:] That’s a hard one. I do have a piece that I’m very attached to that I did in 2018. It’s very dark. It’s called Irma-Maria. In 2017 the series of storms that had come across the Carribean and Florida that caused a lot of damage. In the piece its a spiral like the hurricane, storm, whirl-pool.
It’s a little chaotic. It has blue, but not very inviting blues. I combined images like cut pieces of reef swept into the whirl-pool. We see the human side, but there’s also an environmental side. Think about the reefs and fish. Also what has the damage done to us being that the ocean is a part of our home.