Sweet Reward for Cleveland Art Student


Clarion photo Zooey Redmond

Jasmine Estrada-Hernandez, senior, had her art displayed at heART of Portland. Her piece was a painting of a pinata to symbolize her Mexican-American heritage.

By Elizabeth Long, Editor

The HeART of Portland is a Portland Public School tradition, where students in kindergarten through senior year have the chance to display their artwork at the Portland Art Museum. Full of both visual art and performances, this event is a chance for local schools to showcase talent and unique perspectives. Last April, senior Jasmine Estrada-Hernandez was selected to represent Cleveland at the HeART of Portland.  Her piece was titled Infancia and depicts various candies falling out of a piñata. Full of dynamic colors and shapes, Estrada-Hernadez’s piece is a testament to her Mexican-American heritage. 

Cleveland art teacher Emily Pratt selected Estrada-Hernandez’s piece for the HeART of Portland, feeling that Infancia was eye-catching and had deep meaning. “I chose her work because I liked that she was combining cultural elements and personal experience with the artwork, and I felt it was a voice that needed to be heard and a relevancy that is marginalized sometimes,” said Pratt. 

Pratt felt the technical elements of Infancia were just as strong as the meaning behind the piece. “The clarity of the candy and the graphic quality of the piece juxtaposed with the unreal blue background and the piñata really give it a sense of movement, story, and voice,” she said. 

Pratt has known Estrada-Hernandez for some time, teaching her in the Standard Level IB art class. “She has really lovely craftsmanship, interesting ideas, strong opinions about what art is, and she really likes having just a creative practice,” said Pratt. 

In the creation of Infancia, Estrada-Hernandez was influenced by a local painter, as well as her own experiences. “I was inspired by Shu-Ju Wang, who is an artist here in Portland,” said Estrada-Hernandez. “She works a lot with food and her childhood, and the change in her history as an immigrant, moving to America. I incorporated a lot of those elements like childhood and growing up in America into my piece,” she said. 

Just like Wang, Estrada-Hernandez aimed to show her dual identity through foodstuffs. “I wanted to show growing up as a Mexican-American in America and use all this American candy [in the piece] as well my Mexican life and what I’m used to and grew up with,” said Estrada-Hernandez. 

While it was an honor to be part of the HeART of Portland, the biggest surprise came later. While visiting the exhibit, Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero was so taken with Infancia that he wanted to purchase it. As Estrada-Hernandez’s art teacher, Pratt received the emailed offer first. 

“I was really excited for her, and it was very flattering,” Pratt said.  

When she heard about the offer, Estrada-Hernandez was enthusiastic. “I was very happy,” she said. “It was the first piece of mine that was purchased, and so I was really happy that someone liked it so much that they took the time to ask if they could buy it. It was a good day,” Estrada-Hernandez recalled. 

The story got even better after Infancia was purchased. “They sent a check over, and I gave it to her, and then I found out that it was chosen to be in the permanent collection at the district office,” said Pratt. 

Estrada-Hernandez added, “It was very exciting, finding out about it. I hadn’t been asked anything like that at all in my past time working on paintings. It was a very new experience.” 

With the money she earned from the sale of Infancia, Estrada-Hernandez hopes to invest in her art. “I’m planning to buy better-quality art supplies, and to test out different paint, like oil paint instead of the acrylic that I used, and different brushes and canvas sizes,” she said. 

Inspired by her success at the HeART of Portland, Estrada-Hernandez is looking to explore the art world more. “I definitely will try to venture out into the showings and that kind of thing,” she said. “It was never my intent of going, but seeing how well it went and how inspired I am because of it, I will probably explore that area in art,” said Estrada-Hernandez. 

“Infancia”-Photo credits: Jasmine Estrada-Hernandez