San Francisco-based artist Catherine Herrera celebrates 25 years of creating films, photography, writing and art professionally on commission, assignment and invitation. Her work has exhibited in the U.S. and Mexico in museums, galleries, cultural centers and public locations. Catherine Herrera is a 2023 Unlock Her Potential Fellow, one of 132 Fellows out of more than 2500 applicants to a program elevating and support women of color in entertainment and the arts founded by Sophia Chang (www.unlockherpotential.com). In 2023, Catherine Herrera will exhibit in a group show of contemporary Native American artists at the Gallery of Santa Clara University, and building from exhibits at the Triton Museum of Contemporary Art and de Saisset Museum in 2019. In 2021, Catherine Herrera was selected as an UpNext Photographer from Diversify Photo, and a selected grantee from San Francisco Art Span for 2022 Open Studios Premium participation. In 2022, Catherine Herrera was selected as a Rooted & Written Fellow of the S.F. Writer's Grotto, which mentors and elevates the writing of BIPOC San Francisco writers, and completed a commission on invitation for Montalvo Arts Center in collaboration with Bandaloop and Confederation of Ohlone Peoples. Catherine Herrera is invited for a Montalvo residency in 2023 by Lucas Arts Director Kelly Sicat.
Catherine Herrera creates art that reflects the beauty and challenges of the human experience, and dives deeper into questions that she asks in reflecting on her life experiences. Over the last 25 years, Catherine has documented her life and travels, and her experience as an Indigenous woman of mixed heritage. Writing poetry on the stoop of her grandparents home was a refuge from confusing issues of race and belonging that living with her European American family in Brentwood, CA after her parents divorce raised, and the experience of being with her Dad's family, where photography was a tradition passed through the generations and their kitchen bulletin board served as the analog Facebook for keeping up with all the relations.
As a college student, first in Santa Barbara, a place she would later learned held some ancient connections to her family, and where she worked as a dresser in the theater, and at USC, where she served as a Daily Trojan and Yearbook photographer, taking classes in the film school, dreaming to make films that reflected back her own family and life experiences, Catherine expanded further her creative education. Still, being an 'artist' was out of the realm of possible, so she went on to become a lawyer, graduating from USC Law Center in 1992, and moving to El Paso, Texas to clerk for a federal judge. It was here that Catherine made her first documentary, 'Alphabet People,' held in the Chicano Film Library of the University of Wisconsin.
Over the years, Catherine gained experience, first as a photojournalist for newspapers and magazines, then, associate producer on news documentaries and national broadcast distribution. In 2008, Catherine's right arm nerve was damaged during a blood draw, which impacted her mobility. A 2009 commission for the de Young Museum, which resulted in the short documentary and 3-screen video installation, premiering in the Tower of the museum in 2012, supported a new direction creatively following the injury. Physical limitations made working in the field and operating Flor de Miel Media in the same way impossible.
Catherine has developed over the years a flexibility to create according to the project and objective, and available resources. Public video and art installations became a new avenue to create within, leading to the most recent 2019-2020 invitation to a commission with sound and voice artist Carmina Escobar and Indexical in Santa Cruz, CA in creating a life-sized 'Spirit Doll' of coastal wood and shells for a public art performance, to draw attention to coastal health and sustainability in view of climate change and in early research for Catherine's current documentary film, public art venture 'The Martins Beach Project.'