Casandra Hernandez will join the ASU Art Museum in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in January 2016 as Curator of CALA Initiatives, as part of a newly established partnership with Phoenix-based CALA Alliance (Celebración Artística de las Américas).
The partnership between the ASU Art Museum and CALA Alliance aims to position Phoenix as a world-class destination that acknowledges the significance of arts in the Americas and to demonstrate that arts and culture are fundamental in the region’s growing ties to the vast U.S. southern border, Mexico and the Americas.
Evolving from an initiative of the former Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture (MPAC), the CALA Alliance works to showcase Arizona as a center of creativity and innovation committed to strengthening relationships across geographic sectors. The organization recognizes the profound demographic changes that are reshaping America, and the need for the growing and impactful Latino segment of the population to be better understood and valued.
Ruben Alvarez, CALA Alliance board president, stated the following: “Our organization is very excited to have Casandra Hernandez oversee the expansion of our organization’s initiatives as we strive to foster cultural understanding through the arts and position Arizona in a very positive light.”
In her role as curator, Hernandez will design and implement programming, collaborations and international partnerships focused on contemporary Latino and Latin American artists to create high quality and engaging artistic and cultural experiences in the Metro Phoenix region.
“This is a very important moment to embrace the key role that Latino/a artistic production plays in shaping the cultural landscape of Arizona,” Hernandez says. “I am excited to join the ASU Art Museum and focus on creating artistic and cultural experiences that engage the complex diversity of Latino/a stories and re-imagine Arizona's place in the Americas.”
Hernandez is a native of Hermosillo, Sonora, who has spent her life on both sides of the Sonora-Arizona border. As a cultural anthropologist, arts producer and educator, her work has focused on contemporary artistic practices and cultural expressions in Arizona and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Hernandez has curated performance events, festivals, symposia, educational programs and museum exhibitions in a variety of public spaces, cultural institutions and environmental settings. As an arts producer, Hernandez has worked with local, national and international artists in performance, dance, visual art and media, including Nemcatacoa Teatro (Colombia), Verbobala (Tucson), the modern dance-duo Eiko & Koma (NYC/Japan) and visual artist Ana Teresa Fernandez (Mexico/California).
“Hernandez has breadth of contacts and depth of experience, making her the perfect connect point for the ASU Art Museum’s active engagement with the full range of communities in the Phoenix region,” said ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox. “During Pablo Helguera’s Libreria Donceles project, Casandra was an active partner and animated the space with a variety of artistic forms and community experiences. The entire museum is thrilled that she will be working with us on a formal basis.”
Hernandez is a graduate of Arizona State University with an MA in Anthropology and a BA in Anthropology and Art History. A passionate advocate for Latino arts and cultures, she is a recipient of the 2014 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Award and a fellow of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures.
Hernandez recently managed artist grants and programs at the Arizona Commission on the Arts, where she nurtured fruitful cross-sector partnerships that increased the state agency’s reach and capacity to support the work of Arizona artists. She co-designed and implemented the agency’s ambitious AZ ArtWorker program, which facilitates dialogue and knowledge-sharing between Arizona artists, national and international artists and residents of Arizona communities, securing a $30,000 grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation to fund the program’s pilot-year programming in Douglas, Tucson and Phoenix.
Previously, Hernandez worked as Interpretation and Programs Coordinator at ASU Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve (formerly Deer Valley Rock Art Center), an archaeology museum and 47-acre Sonoran Desert preserve home to the largest concentration of Native American petroglyphs in the Phoenix area. At the center, Hernandez created innovative public programming that connected past and present understandings of place and cultural identity in the Sonoran Desert, with a particular emphasis on the deep history of indigenous connections to the site.
Deborah Sussman Susser