Artist Interview: Fausto Fernandez
Did you ever do that thing, when someone said, “That’s hot,” or, “You’re hot,” where you touch the tip of your tongue to your finger, and then swing your finger around in the air and onto your booty, exhaling a loud and sizzling “Tssssssssssssssssss”? No? Well, I’m cheesy that way, I guess. But, I totally hear that feverish sound reverberating off the walls when I’m around Fausto Fernandez and his artworks. If you don’t know him yet, figure out a way to meet him, because he’s one of those rare artists whose name already is known, and he just happens to call Phoenix home.
Fausto Fernandez’s work was chosen for inclusion in shows at the Mesa Arts Center, the Tucson Museum of Art, the Tempe Center for the Arts, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the Smithsonian’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York and The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. He was selected to design a floor for the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Terrazzo Public Art Project to be built in 2012 and one of his paintings is now part of the permanent collection at the Phoenix Art Museum. See? I told you. Hot. His work reverberates with energy and tension in dynamic, layered abstractions. The machines and tools that work their way into his artworks create a space for us to pause and appreciate the beauty of those objects that constitute our daily routine. It is a delight to have Fernandez answer some burning questions in the exclusive interview below.
What is your motivation behind your current exhibition?
I think my motivation comes from wanting to find out more about who I am as a person, the way I think and how my thought process changes as I age and learn, finding the extent of my creative process and new techniques. It’s a lifelong process that keeps me motivated to keep creating.
My first solo show at Gebert Contemporary last November was a series of works I did last year. They were colorful, decorative mixed-media collages that depict tools, machines and aviation renderings as well as sewing patterns, blue prints and maps. I use instructional materials to represent my ideas of a mechanical society that works on a regular basis with tools, machines, clocks and time, rules and regulations to maintain order and at the same time to allow us to progress.
You have been creating art for a while. Is there a piece or collection that stands out for you?
What stands out for me is how there are certain series of paintings that feel like they flow easier than others, but, at times, certain paintings require more time and care. I started using the patterns of airplane horizontal stabilizers or airplane wings in recent paintings that mimic the design of a floor I designed for the Sky Harbor Airport Sky Train Station to be built at the end of the year.
What do you feel makes you stand out?
My choices of colors, instructional materials, and decorative shapes have developed into a personal style. Being part of the art community over the years and having worked at museums for a few years in the past have taught me different ways of professionally approaching my works, including the way I’ve built and displayed my works, and the choices I have made. I’ve been lucky to find great patrons and artist friends that inspire me, and I've received great advice from other artists and museum professionals that have led to museums, group shows, and gallery representation.
Are you able to create full-time?
Yes, a series of circumstances led me to become a full-time artist. I have a passion for museum work; I worked for seven years as a preparator of exhibitions at several museums. I was taking art history classes to pursue my M.F.A in art history to become a museum curator. During my work at the museum, I was selected to design a floor for the Sky Harbor Airport, and between conceptual meetings, design and a full-time job, it just made sense to me a that point that I needed to focus more time at my own art work, so I quit my job two years ago to give myself an opportunity to create.
Does being a Phoenix "transplant" or dual citizen affect your work?
No, it doesn’t affect my work. What might influence my work are people, relationships, family and friends. The fact is that as little or as big of an art scene as we might have, the conversations with other artists and community support have allowed me to focus and create what I like. Even though I was raised on the border and have dual citizenship, I lived in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico most of my life, growing up in Mexico with a Mexican family, and I never questioned my background. It wasn't until I moved to Arizona that I found that identity plays a big role, and cultural background seems to play an important role in trying to understand the artist. In general, I don't question border issues or cultural background in my artwork. I have more of an inclination to question and understand people in society and how relationships work.