What I love most about painting is that its been around for literally thousands years and it never goes stale. The act of being an artist doesn’t change, but rather the external influences that impact the arts do. The creative process gets passed down from generation to generation maintaining its integrity. It is the burden of each new class of artist to use these lessons to adapt to the current challenges on their world. Our job is to honor and reflect the giants before us upon whose shoulders we stands, and to make enough of a contribution to the conversation of painting to inspire the next wave of creative youth. What defines each new era of artist is how well we can carry that touch, and take it to places never seen before.
I’ve spent time art school studios and on railway train cars, and I try to remember what I’ve learned from both when making art. The beautiful thing is as an artist actually have access to both all of art history and what other artist are up to today. We are in a profound moment in the development of mural painting. Not just aerosol paint, but the ability to be connected with other muralist all over the world in real time. How can you not be inspired when you see the stuff coming from people like Emily Ding, Kevin Burdick, or Nomad Clan? I’m just grateful that with the Flint Public art Project this hurricane of talent made a stop in my city. My job now is to try to catch up with these guys.
Born in Rockford, IL on May 19, 1993; Hector Eric Acuna spent the majority of his childhood in the small rural Kenosha-county village of Bristol, WI. There he and his two older half-siblings were raised by their mother Mary. Both of Hector’s parents had practiced painting and drawing periodically throughout their lives which fostered much of his early interest in making pictures. Hector’s conflicted relationship with his Mexican father, Hector Sr., initiated much of Hector’s conceptual research on identity and belonging. In short, Hector understands the act of representing a thing becomes a way of defining the thing through the eyes and mind of the artist. Viewers will see, engage, and experience the work while developing their own interpretation.
As a citizen of the United States, Hector’s experience has been riddled with confrontations concerning his identity and qualifications of belonging in a social group or geographic location. “The body I inhabit is loaded with preconceptions others place onto and sometimes into my own sense of existence.” Hector believes it is through his research that he can explore where and how images gain their value in the public discourse of everyday life to twist and return back into the public realm through art for viewers to contemplate. “It might be related to Imposter Syndrome, but I’ve felt for a long time that my outer self is in tension with my personal experiences. At any moment it seems I could be confronted by a stereotype someone might pull out of their pocket. When I’m painting I get to experiment with meaning and juxtaposition. I’m fascinated by the idea of human encounters as a visual and conceptual framework for an image. What I’ve learned so far is how complex definitions actually are. I’m often uncovering or creating moments which reveal hypocrisies and contradictions but ultimately get closer to what I feel is true.”
Hector’s artwork has been exhibited nationally in various museums and galleries including the Scarrabochio Art Museum and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Through the first ten years of Hector’s career his work has been purchased in private and public collections in the United States and France. Hector has been the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships, and awards including the Hipstamatic Entrepreneurship Award ($5,000) and the Dissertation Completion Fellowship from Michigan State University. Outside of his studio, Hector has completed and collaborated on multiple large scale murals. While selling his art to collectors is his primary vocation, Hector has also pursued public teaching opportunities to students in middle school, high school, and at the undergraduate level. Privately Hector has taught painting and drawing lessons to students in individual and small groups. On an average day Hector can be found working in his studio, biking, watching or making YouTube videos, playing guitar, or camping in his van. Hector recently became engaged to his long time partner Megan DeWall. The two are currently living in Lansing, MI.