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Local Artist Feature: Sofía Ramirez Hernandez

Contemporary Conversations

Local Artist Feature: Sofía Ramirez Hernandez

Sofía Ramirez Hernandez shares her non-negotiable daily drawing practice on social media platforms in hopes of inspiring others to open up or feel less alone. Practicing since the age of two, Sofía painted, drew, and wrote her way to Grand Rapids, where she received a BFA in Drawing, Printmaking, and Painting from Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University. We chatted with the artist to learn more about what makes her so prolific, what inspires her, and what's on the horizon.

Sofía is best known for her shameless, witty candor and borderline unhealthy attraction to endurance. Today she uses uses the leadership and organizational skills picked up as a club co-president, an artist in residence, after school teacher, and bartender to be the best art instructing, camp counseling, illustration freelancing, triathlon racing, chicanx movement studying, cheeseburger aficionado she can be.

How would you describe your work?

Accessible. Tongue in cheek. Honest. Gritty. Confessional. Smart. Silly.

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

The complexity and pain of immigrating to an anglo suburb in Michigan from Mexico City as a young girl of color, for sure. This pain has forced me to question everything, from politics to social interactions, from accessibility in the fine art world to my own place in the world and my local community. I now celebrate my background, my culture, my being different here.

Do you have a piece of work that stands out in your mind as something you are exceptionally proud of or that is particularly important to you?

My project #SofiaDrawsEveryDay as a whole has been incredibly humbling and yet makes me want to scream, “I HAVE DRAWN OVER 1300 DRAWINGS DAILY!” at the top of a mountain every other day. The intention wasn't to develop a sense of commitment nor discipline, but I am definitely a better person today because of it. When viewers on social media or in galleries say things like, “Me too,” I am grateful that I pushed through the fear of exposing my most private experiences and thoughts. I believe that showing vulnerability inspires others to open up, making society a more honest, direct, understanding, forgiving, and embracing (my one true goal).

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

The first year of #SofiaDrawsEveryDay was displayed at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts last summer, but this fall’s ArtPrize Nine will bring Grand Rapids a billboard sized grid of 1,096 drawings of radical and confessional poetry, selfies, and straight up comedy. I can’t say much more than that and that you can follow my process on Instagram under the handle @SofiaDrawsEveryDay.

What do you want others outside of the creative workforce to understand about careers within the arts?

Freelance is hard. More often than not, the artist in front of you is their own everything. Please be kind to us, and pay us accordingly when you ask us to rework something multiple times. We love what we do, but it is hard work, just like every other job.

How can communities, specifically Grand Rapids, better support the creative workforce?

Destroy capitalism! No, but really. Just because you don't have the cold, hard cash to pay a visual artist doesn't mean that you should not have art you love and want! Trade your skills and time. In exchange for artwork that required my expertise, time, and materials, I would love a haircut, a mountain bike, Tupperware filled with meals, or clothes that fit me well. Everyone loves to feel valued; in a community we need to show each other that we can rely on one another and that our 9-5's don't determine our worth.

What are you passionate about besides your work?

Questioning 'The Man' at every turn, running for extended periods of time, dissecting movies and shows in bed by myself, comedy, searching for the perfect burger, my blood and chosen family, honest and direct communication, and Googling the big life questions.

What's the best piece of advice you have heard and repeat to others?

Inspiration is overrated. There is nothing riskier than pretending you don't care, and feel all the feels.

Do not wait for a grand idea to get to work, you must create art you are bored with, dislike, or outright hate in order to get to make something you are proud of. Show passion, geek out over other artists, get excited, speak against injustice. Hiding our interests only prevents a spectator from feeling understood. It's okay to feel disappointed, angry, lazy, sad, proud, excited. Work through artist-block by accepting feelings of defeat and dread, feel it and move on. Repression of your natural self makes for impenetrable art and is bad for your health. 

Looking for more? Learn more about Sofía Ramirez Hernandez here.