THE OUTLAW CLOTHESLINE- in memory of my brother Joseph
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"I know, I know, I know I'm never never never gonna leave you babe.
But I gotta go away from this place."
-Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, Led Zeppelin
The Outlaw Clothesline is an installation comprised of mixed media works on bandanas in memory of my brother Joseph Hernandez who ended his cancer battle in April of 2010. The bandanas piece together chapters of his life from beginning to end. Creating these works in the months leading up to the 4th anniversary of his passing was cathartic. As intimate tributes to my brother's life, they also double as tributes to the Brooklyn of our youth. Saying goodbye to a conflicted yet idealized Brooklyn of our past, I created these while packing and purging material baggage, both mine and his. Two weeks after the anniversary I left our East New York, our Park Slope, our Brooklyn, and moved to Puerto Rico.
A previous project, also dedicated to my brother, superimposed digital montages and calligraphy over the scanned image of one of his bandanas. The Outlaw Clothesline is a natural progression where the images and narratives come to life on actual bandanas. I had seen him use those bandanas, since my earliest memories of him dressed as an outlaw, to his work as a mason, to his final weeks battling through radiation and chemotherapy. I first worked directly on a bandana in my 2011 piece "Fuck Cancer." Soon after the concept of a clothesline developed. Repurposing some of the concepts created on paper, I call the works on bandanas "remixes" tying them into the authentic hip hop that my brother adored. I combine the use of my fountain pen and calligraphy markers, with those from the black case of markers that he would carry back and forth from hospital stays to make inspirational "Fuck Cancer" signs for his room. From highlights, to shadows, to lightning bolts and other embellishments created with his markers, I find his graf hand guiding mine. My big brother is a phenomenal spirit that has influenced every single aspect of my life and in particular my art, of which he was the biggest supporter. My connection to him has only strengthened in spirit. I am ever grateful for his light.
THE OUTLAW CLOTHESLINE, VIDEO, 2014
This video is a memorial tribute to my brother Joseph who passed in 2010 from cancer. I debuted it on the 5th anniversary of his passing. It follows my creative process along with the memories and reflections that led to my 2014 art installation in his memory, The Outlaw Clothesline. Inspired by one of my brother's bandanas, this project is a series of 9 mixed media bandanas hung from a steel chain. Each bandana is inspired by a chapter in his life and a particular song pr poem that reminded me of him. Many of the images and some of the footage in the video are shot by my brother. I found these on his computer after he passed, along with some of the music tracks. The scenery travels from Park Slope to Coney Island and East New York Brooklyn where we grew up and ends in Moca, Puerto Rico where I now live and work. This art project was my final catharsis in saying goodbye to my brother's physical life and to the Brooklyn and New York of our youth, before having moved to Puerto Rico.
The evening leading up to my brother's passing, unable to speak we communicated through music. I have included much of the music that was the soundtrack to our relationship here. Art and music saved both our lives before his cancer battle and helped him transition out of this place. Big ups to all of the musicians who made our life together more special.
Soar in love, peace and light Sonny!
June 20-1966-April 27-2010.
The Outlaw Clothesline installation debuted as part of Fusion, a pop-up show organized by the West Harlem Arts Fund for Armory Arts week, March 2014. In this interview with curator Savona Bailey McClain, I discuss the inspiration I received from my brother to create this piece.