Images from letf to right: Headshot, Nancy Hernandez. Mural, A Warrior’s Road to Freedom, collaborative work coordinated by Nancy Hernandez with students from Raza Studies; Yoshi, Bounce, Skott and Cee from TYS; Dime and Drama from Visual Element; and Estria, Pittsburg High School, CA, 80 ‘ x 60’.
Nancy Hernandez is an artist and community activist dedicated to grassroots movements for social justice and youth empowerment through art. At 15, Hernandez’s chola mindset was forever transformed by involvement in the Chicano student walkouts against California’s anti-immigrant Proposition 187.
While her younger brother was in juvenile hall and her older brother in prison, she stepped to the forefront of the No on Proposition 21 Campaign to fight the criminalization of youth and the growing prison population.
As a student at City College of San Francisco, Hernandez helped establish a peer-based center to support matriculation of students of color, and was involved in the mobilization of over 10,000 community college students to fight budget cuts and fee increases.
After college she worked with Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth (HOMEY) to address the root causes of gang-related violence in the Mission District of San Francisco.
Using art and craft practices—silkscreen, clothing design, graffiti, and muralism—Hernandez brought together youth from across gang lines. She collaborated with graffiti master SPIE 1 and coordinated over 200 volunteers to create the mural Breaking Down Barriers—Building Bridges of Solidarity at the corner of 24th and Capp streets. Also, she was instrumental in the project Green My Ride that converted old-school cars into biodiesel lowriders.
Hernandez taught art for three years at June Jordan, a public high school focused on social justice in San Francisco’s Excelsior District. Her students worked with graffiti legends Estria, Reyes, Kufu, Refa One, Dime, and RIOS to paint the walls of the school. Hernandez was a board member of World Bridges, an organization that works with emerging leaders in diverse strategies for effecting social change, where she coordinated a summer tour for Bay Area youth activists to the Philippines.
During her travels to Cuba, Panama, New Zealand, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Palestine, Hernandez deepened a dedication to the worldwide struggle for human rights and self-determination.
Today Hernandez is project manager for Water Writes, an ambitious undertaking sponsored by Estria Foundation, an organization dedicated to urban public arts in Oakland, California. Water Writes mobilizes graffiti artists and street muralists to address current environmental and social issues. Over the next 10 months, Hernandez will be coordinating 10 massive public art projects on the streets of 10 cities all struggling to gain access to clean water.