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Meet Sofia Hernandez Crade

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sofia Hernandez Crade.

Sofia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
From as far back as I can remember, I have wanted to be either an artist or a zoologist. Captivated by the natural world, I spent hours in the school library, foregoing recess, poring over animal anthologies. I would lose myself in my drawings, depicting exotic creatures from faraway lands. I transformed my bedroom, painting a rainforest mural so I could sleep under the canopy. At the age of nine, I mastered the art of debate, arguing the merits of each species and breed and explaining how I would simply die if we didn’t adopt whatever new creature captivated my fascination that week. My poor mother’s will grew thin. Before long, I had a menagerie all my own, boasting a diverse group of over one hundred animals.

Fast forward to today, and you will find me in my art studio bottle feeding an orphaned squirrel.

Choosing to pursue my love of art, I attended Beloit College in Wisconsin and earned a Bachelor of Fine Art. There I was able to explore a vast array of mediums and subjects. I have always strived to be a bit of a Renaissance woman, believing the more you know and are willing to ask questions, the more your worldview opens and your art is enriched. While in Wisconsin, I had the privilege of teaching art therapy to survivors of sexual assault for three years. During this time, I was able to witness firsthand the tremendous transformational powers of creative self-expression. After college, I decided to move back to my beautiful home state of Colorado to be closer to my wonderful family. I was thrilled to be offered a position as Art Director at Squash Blossom Gallery in historic Old Colorado City. There I learned the business side of art. I loved representing talented artists and hearing all about the trials and tribulations of their careers.

Working with art collectors gave me valuable insight into the physiology of why someone chooses a particular piece. During this period, I tried to continue my studio practice but often found it difficult to put in the amount of time I wanted. Upon leaving The Squash Blossom, I was offered a position at the Broadmoor Galleries, representing many world-renowned artists I deeply admired. Although the experience was invaluable, I still felt a deep ache, not being able to give my full attention to the work I so badly yearned to create. Last September, after lots of deliberation and encouragement from fellow artists, friends and family, I decided to take the plunge and quit my day job and give my full focus and energy to my art!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Unfortunately, smooth would probably be one of the last words I would use to describe this year since I became a professional full-time artist! After giving my resignation at the gallery, I decided to go on a camping trip to New Mexico with my wonderful partner, Dylan, to celebrate the exciting road ahead. When we returned home, we were faced with the world altering news that my mother, who has always been my best friend and biggest champion, had ovarian cancer. The next few months were a dizzying whirlwind of doctor’s appointments and frightening unknowns. Luckily she had an amazing team of doctors and the surgery was a success. I was tremendously grateful that I was now self-employed and could paint from home. This made it possible for her to stay with me so I could look after her around the clock as she regained her strength for chemotherapy.

During this time, we found out the unfortunate news that she had the BRCA2 mutation. I was tested and found out that I, too, shared this unfortunate mutation, which greatly increases your likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Facing this diagnosis, while my mother battled cancer, was devastating. I was immediately thrust into a whirlwind all my own with mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, MRIs and more, speaking with countless specialists and oncologists. After three cancer scares in a two months’ period, I made the difficult decision to get a double mastectomy and eventual hysterectomy, which would offer me some peace of mind and all but reverse the odds. As someone just turning 30, who had never even broken a bone, the idea of decades of medical procedures and surgeries seemed daunting and extremely anxiety-producing. After all, this is not how I had envisioned the start of my dream career and beginning of the next chapter of my life. But nothing in life is guaranteed, so I decided to face this hurdle head-on having assessed the information at hand and knowing that this was the only real decision for me.

I was planning for a spring surgery when the pandemic hit! Art shows that I had been planning for months were suddenly canceled. The world became unfamiliar as it did for so many. This year has often felt like I was living out the plot of a cheesy television drama where the writers were throwing 101 obstacles at their poor protagonist. Despite the many obstacles, this year has brought the quiet of quarantine was good for me creatively. I was able to recenter and put my hands to good use. I am tremendously grateful that I have remained busy with commissions, animal portraits and unexpected shows, including being asked by the new management of Squash Blossom to be represented by their gallery even during this strange time.

Please tell us more about your art.
My work explores the beauty and fragility of life while not shying away from exploring issues of mortality. My portraits aim to honor and give dignity to each of my subjects, giving voice to the often overlooked, complex, inner lives. I enjoy working in a variety of different mediums including sculpture, needle felt, oil, watercolor, and pastel. Recently I have gravitated towards multimedia abstract works as well. This mixing of materials allows my pieces to develop in unexpected ways. There is no better feeling than allowing oneself space to play and experiment. I strive for my work to feel fresh, playful and alive with energy. This bold process-based approach and my rich use of color give an added sense of movement to my work. When asked what medium is my favorite, I often respond, “Whatever I have in my hands at the moment!”. I truly believe that art should be lived. Whether it be making dinner, sculpting, painting, or sewing, we should live each day striving to bring art and beauty into this world! After all, life is what you make!

What were you like growing up?
Have I officially grown up? I still try to hold onto my childlike wonder as much as possible prioritizing time to be silly and play!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
In the next five to ten years, I aspire to have my work featured in multiple galleries across the country. I hope for my art to give voice to social and environmental issues, exploring topics I am passionate about, as well as continuing to capture the beauty of the natural world and its inhabitants. I hope also to be doing more large-scale sculptures that can be exhibited as public works. Above all else, I want to build relationships through my art and to continue being inspired to create every day!

Contact Info:

  • Website: SofiaHernandezCrade.com
  • Phone: (719)719-331-1901
  • Email: sofiahernandezcradefineart@gmail.com
  • Instagram: SofiaHernandezCrade_fineart, SofiaHernandezCrade_abstract

Image Credit:
Heidi Elzas with America’s Meanest Cars

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