Since mid-April and the publication of Savage, the covers for my stories have been created by the talented multi-disciplinary artist Hector Gomez. Based in Queens, NY, Hector´s artistic media ranges from photography to textiles, an ongoing exploration into how various creative languages can coexist.
Below is an interview we got to share recently, and understand a bit more about his work.
Christian Pan: Let us know a bit about your background, Hector How did you first get into creating visual art? Did you go to school for it? Hector Gomez: My family was in craft making, specifically clothing production, so at a young age I spent days hanging out in the production factory seeing people make clothes. I was always interested in creating and would also play with my parents' video and polaroid cameras and used them to document our family. This is when photography came into my life.
During high school I also was involved in ceramics and music, but it wasn’t until I attended college at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco that I took photography as a serious creative endeavor, and completed my degree in Fine Art Photography. Slowly, textile techniques crept into my photo work, and into the pieces you see me making today.
CP: Let us know a bit about your creative process for making your art. Where do you find inspiration? How do you get from an idea to a finished piece?
HG: I'm inspired by everything: music, browsing online image libraries, traveling and meeting new people. Lately, language and communication is something I've been investigating more, and how it pertains to how I come up with weaving patterns.
For the photo weavings, it always starts out with a pattern. Whether it be a traditional weaving pattern, one I make using graph paper or spreadsheets free hand, or calculated binary codes translated from text. From there, I look through my archive or create new pictures and select the images that speak to me at the time. I will sometimes draft out what they will look like to understand if the colors and textures will work together and blend seamlessly, as I want the viewer to dig deep for the individual images. Once I'm happy with the pre-production of it all, I begin to physically weave the images together.
The work is about ripping and repairing what we see through language.
CP: Your work is so diverse, encompassing a variety of media and materials. How do you decide which material(s) to use for a particular work?
HG: I like the idea of recycling images across different mediums to show how diverse life can be. As a person of a colonized past, the context of a medium's histories, process and traits further expands what I'm trying to find within my work. The times we live in also inform this way of working; artists must spread across different new technologies that arise to help us navigate creativity in this moment in time. For example, this led me to learn about volumetric 3D capturing for a few years, which I'm eager to practice again. I believe it’s a new phase of photography. The back and forth of different processes, the virtual and the physical, the digital and the chemical, constantly are in conversation with each other in my work.
CP: Last year, you offered a workshop entitled "Turmeric Anthotypes: Making Photos with Plants". That sounds intriguing. What was that about?
HG: This was made possible by the City Artist Corps Grant. I was awarded some funds to create a free public art workshop in the fall of 2021, and I chose to provide a workshop with a historical process of photography I was working on in the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. Anthotypes are photographic prints using plant materials. The pigments in flowers and plant matter are burned by the sun, and you expose film or shadows of things that are placed above the sensitized paper. I chose to use turmeric as the pigment as I wanted to limit the items to materials I already had, since shopping and going out was not safe. This project was really a way to engage in a creative way during a very dark time globally, as well as for me to continue to expand on my photographic practice in a time where I could not photograph people. I took the opportunity to go back to the very beginnings of photography to shine a light and inform the future of my life, work, and those around me. To be able to show the public some art and processes that helped me stay positive in such a dark period was cathartic.
CP: I see that you were part of a group exhibition last year, with the Bridge program. Could you tell us more about that?
HG: The Bridge Program was a small cohort of artists that helped me to host the anthotype workshop. Hosted by The Salon NYC, an artist collective I'm a member of, they laid the groundwork for this cohort to participate in a pilot program to develop teaching artists. The final product was an exhibit of work created during this program.
CP: Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
HG: Currently, I do not have any exhibits coming up, but actively working towards that for the fall of this year.
CP: How has the pandemic impacted your ability to make or show your work? Has it opened up new possibilities?
HG: Covid definitely allowed me to sit, think, and make a lot of new work. I’ve also learned new processes and skills that I hope to cross-pollinate into my current practice. Showing work has been difficult up to this point as things are just starting to open back up. For now I have relied on online visibility while I prepare larger physical works to be exhibited in-person. The pandemic actually provided me with the time to focus on my practice and I feel much more confident after the long stretch of self reflection.
CP: Is there anything else you would like us to know about you or your work?
HG: I suppose, just stay tuned for the future of my work, which I'm very excited to make! And thank you for taking the time to listen to me, and for allowing my work to accompany your writing.
CP: Absolutely, Hector. It´s been fun collaborating with you!