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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.
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.