Juan Molina Hernández “the home they built, a site of resistance”


About the work:

When considering what to create for this piece, I kept thinking about redlining. I thought about the discrimination and legacy such practices had and continue to have on communities all over the country. I kept thinking about the people, in particular the women, and the homes they built within those redlines.

My piece is directly referencing the essay, “Homeplace (A Site of Resistance)” by Bell Hooks. In this essay, Bell Hooks talks about the radical labor Black women did in creating spaces where Black people could exist and be human. I consider other communities and their labor of creating homes. This labor, like many others, is usually gendered. I think about the stories of migrant workers who had to live in barns and chicken coops when working the fields or those that lived in boxcars. I think of how despite those spaces they were forced to live in, as a former migrant worker once told me, the women tried to make it pretty with dollies and flowers. How do we mark a space as a home? What are the aesthetics of homemaking?

For this piece, I employed past interests, stories, experiments, symbols, and materials to focus on these stories of redlining, the labor of homemaking, rest, and gender. I recall the ways in which the migrant women that I know mark a space as a home. I make reference to fake flowers, embroideries, and a place to rest in the materials and techniques that I use. I build a home out of these markers. Taking into consideration the history of DeKalb with barb wire, I imagine those invisible redlines becoming barb wire that cut those who dare cross.

the home they built, a site of resistance is for all people who create spaces where the most marginalized can rest, live, and be. It is an offering and a love letter to all women, femmes, and queer individuals past, present, and future who create homes out of nothing.


Juan Molina Hernández, born in Guanajuato, México, is a Chicago-based visual artist. Molina Hernández’s art practice primarily uses photography to create narratives that address the complexities of the hybrid immigrant identity. By appropriating symbols from the environment, culture, and personal memory they construct stories in relation to place, family, and a culture that never speaks one language.

Molina Hernández graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography. In the past, they have exhibited at ACRE Projects, Aurora Public Art Commission, Evanston Art Center, Elmhurst Art Museum, Jack Olson Gallery, Roman Susan, as well as White Ripple Gallery & Co. Visit the artist’s website.

the home they built, a site of resistance
27 x 18 in, 2021
Medium: faux flowers, faux pearls, thorns, embroidery thread, hair on pillowcase

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