We had the good fortune of connecting with féi hernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi féi, how do you think about risk?
Risk is fully definitive of who I am as a person. To live undocumented for twenty years as a childhood arrival was a risk. To live in Inglewood was a risk. To be trans in the United States during long standing violent policy against trans bodies is a risk. To be Indigenous and not
claim our legacy and history is a risk. To be a published writer and storyteller committed to sharing the truth is a risk that costs/can cost me privacy and relationships. I have lived in and witnessed my family take risks as means to survive— immigrating to a new country for safety and overstaying our visas, being: languageless, struggling economically, but never showing it, and being breathing Mexicans in a Country that hates them. Being thrust into this world in a body and experience inherently full of risk taught me at a very young age that whatever I decided to create with my hands would also follow in my legacy.
Risk is an opportunity to discover who I truly am and what I want to leave behind for the world long after I’m gone: writings that guide and challenge, and revolutionary art. I couldn’t leave anything of substance behind if I chose to create from what was imposed onto me. Right? For example, were I to create artwork and writings insistent on generic motifs and a national identity as Mexican to empower myself only to feel I belonged somewhere, would I not be casting shadow over real parts of my lineage? Meaning, what am I under all these labels? For starters I know my direct Indigenous lineages are to the Pi’ma, Raramuri peoples of the Southwest and the Cora peoples of Mesoamérica. Secondly, I am from Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico, which is its own particularity that even then can’t be generalized into a state identity and projected onto a whole peoples living within this colonially structured Mexican state. I, for example, am third generation diasporic within Mexico as an Indigenous person acculturated into a “Mexican” conglomerated culture within Chihuahua and became fourth generation diasporic when we migrated to Inglewood and was raised “Mexican” in the United States, split in a world with colonial imprints on both sides.
The true magic of my writings, visual work, and spiritual practices has been to unearth what has always been. It takes risk to be who you are wholly and confidently in this time and age of policing. Yet, I believe I’m not doing anything courageous, I’m simply doing my part in ensuring better Black and Indigenous futures. It takes risk to know and challenge yourself in your nuanced intersections, privileges and shortcomings alike. Existing in the margins is a forced creative space of ingenuity. I was able to form my truth amidst all the very real things that were bestowed upon me. I was able to define my transness, my Mexicanness, my Indigineity and the way I engage with these topics in my work.
I hope that the risks I take creating artwork and writings that may not always come off as easy or palatable when it comes to “representation” provide future generations continual guiding tools of the new world (that exists in the now), where we can walk in truth and Indigenous understandings of life, identity, land, and belonging.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
My writings and artwork electrify me. When a vision strikes me I follow it. It’s an ancestral magic to see the way I can “see”. It’s a gift and I cherish it. I’m guided to use my hands to transform the messages from beyond the veil, time and space, to leave something like gold behind. I am excited to develop my skills further! Most of the work thus far is a fun exploration that usually ends in learning more about myself and simultaneously a gift for whoever stumbles upon it. Moving through spirit in industries that are cold, White, rigid, and colonial has been extremely challenging. However, I stay focused on the larger vision: better futures for trans, queer, gender non-conforming Black, Indigineous, people of color. Remembering this always prompts a strong step forward. It is a daily practice to obliterate the colonizer and cop in my head so that I can move fluidly into my destiny. My honesty, vulnerability, and truth in short are my descendants’ gift to me. All that I am is not a brand, it is just the perpetual fight for peace so that we may bestow planet earth with more flowers, creations, and harmony. The only thing that sets me apart is my willingness to try against all odds. Over and over again.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc. In your view what are some of the most fun, interesting, exciting people, places or things to check out?
The Rails, a secret, not so secret, spot in Playa Del Rey would be a definite first stop. Ecualecua, a vegan Cuban restaurant that is no longer in Westchester. We would make a pit stop at my mom’s tax office, Lorenzana Services in Inglewood and maybe grab a bite at LAX tacos across the street. We’d make a trip to Malibu for a hike and end with a mindful walk at Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. We’d do the routine touristy stops: The Observatory, to oversee a miniature lit up Downtown LA, go down to Fred 62 for a delicious diner meal, Skylight Books. Maybe make a stop at my favorite spiritual shop, Mostly Angels, which is no longer physically in Culver City. We’d drive down to San Pedro for the secret, not so secret, Sunken City, go the Korean Friendship Bell for a walk that overlooks an ocean of diamonds, and definitely grab some Salmon Street Tacos from Chinollo in Carson. We’d make a trip down to SD to Barrio Logan, stop at Libélula Bookstore, and get some bomb Chilaquiles at El Carrito Restaurant. Or we could go inland to the Thich Nhat Hahn Deer Park Monastery, or Joshua Tree. We could go up north driving along the coast to SF or keep driving for Portland. I could go on: Barnes & Noble to hang out, Starbucks for Venti Salted Caramel Cold Foam Cold Brews, Raising Canes, Pho Daily, or back to the Arts District for Angel’s City Brewery, Karaoke in a nearby Japanese Mall, and Wurstküche for dinner, but I’ll stop.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Maribel Lorenzana, my momma, for literally everything. My family, who gives me the space to be all that I need to be in my neurodivergence, transness. My homies, who do the same. Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, for always, always looking out. Patricia Smith, Ruben Quesada. All the folks who really see me, beyond the clout. Omar Apollo cus his music gets me through. My benevolent ancestors and spirit guides who I owe everything I am and create. All books on craft/literary criticism created by BIPOC (some I’ve read: Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat, Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses). All QTBIPOC poets and writers that have paved the way for me. My son Kosmoh. My brother Kometah. And my brother resting in divine peace: Victor Ivan Lorenzana.
Other: TikTok: @feihernandez
2 stand alone first images: Courtesy of The Broad Picture of me in the green dress: House of Vivian Performance images in the collages : Marie Alyse Rodriguez 3 & 8 picture uploads were community captures ＊ Collages were made by me