My work weaves together themes of my rural Midwest upbringing, a conflicted relationship with my Mexican heritage, and the human body as a social and cultural signifier. Within my mixed media practice, I traverse a multitude of subject matter and media by collecting, integrating, and juxtaposing visual information. Building on a foundation of autobiography; I look to better understand the complexities of navigating contemporary preconceptions of brown male identity in the United States. Multiplicity functions as a thematic compass for both process and concept in my practice, and diversity develops in the varied visual languages of representation and abstraction. Through a layering of form and meaning I continually examine a sense of belonging between the figure and ground. Symbols and references reappear throughout the surfaces of my work inviting viewers to explore humorous, exaggerated, and uncanny chapters of an ongoing personal mythology.
In my current series Neighbors, I explore the definitions and limitations when depicting human form. My curiosity addresses the presence of the “other” and the strange body in the context of a Midwest United States experience. I realize these ideas through a symbolic form I’ve titled Neighbor. What began as a simple shape in my sketchbook practice has grown into a figurative series combining representational human anatomy with surrealist adaptations on shape, texture, and color. In this series I’m searching for the line between the familiar and the unfamiliar body. Most of the Neighbor paintings employ my imagination when constructing the initial image. I rely heavily on my history and understanding of portraying the human figure when constructing each subject and still borrow forms from direct observations. While the main form of this series reimagines the human body, the surfaces of these shapes carry familiar textures and details. Human skin has been an important subject in my past work and continues to offer opportunities for discovery in my process. Throughout my practice I’ve represented subjects from direct observation and photography in order to layer a sense of realism and history the paintings convey. The subjects in my paintings occupy varying environments, some densely populated with figures and objects and some which are desolate leaving the subject alone. I’m intrigued by the relationships between figures and space. I see painting as a way of processing my experiences while creating new scenarios for deeper investigation. The representation of human bodies and how meaning interacts with it center most of my conceptual research today. I hope to achieve a believable sense of life in these paintings to expand our understanding of what it looks and feels like to be a member of the United States today.
Hector Acuna is a 2020 MFA graduate from Michigan State University originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Hector began his academic career at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he earned his BFA in 2015. Hector has had small group and solo exhibitions at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Scarabocchio Art Museum, Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Kresge Art Center, Re:Vision Gallery, and Noel Fine Arts Center. His work has also been included in exhibitions at Site:Brooklyn Gallery, Baton Rouge Gallery, 440 Gallery, Lansing Art Gallery, and Wheaton College. Hector has been awarded the Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2D BFA Arts Bash Scholarship, James R. Hill Award, COFAC Dedication Scholarship, and the Hipstamatic Entrepreneurship Award. Hector currently resides in Lansing, MI with his fiancé and their guinea pig.