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Building the American Dream
2019, Film, Dimensions variable
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More works by
An Uncertain Future
2018, Film, Dimensions variable
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About the Artist
Chelsea Hernandez is a Mexican-American filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. Her work focuses on the unique perspectives of various issues and topics through the lens of ordinary people who challenge the status quo and injustices in this world.
I'm struck by the power that documentaries can have on human emotion. Films of personal stories can move an audience and create visible change in the world without having to be a film comprised of solely talking heads. Some of my favorite films are those that are completely vérité, with minimal dialogue. There's something special in seeing life unfold as art on a screen. I enjoy making work that is somewhat abstract in the storytelling so that the audience can feel what comes natural to them and conjure up their own points of view about the issues presented with a series of images. As a Director, I guide the audience through a true story with my own unique vision as a Mexican-American, incorporating the real moments captured on camera. My ultimate goal is to create lively discussions of the points presented in the film, have audiences connect with the participants in the film and make an impact on communities.My current interests are uncovering the stories of ordinary people who are fighting the status quo. My latest documentary, Building the American Dream, which premiered at SXSW, followed three Latino immigrant families who were taken advantage of by construction companies and are stepping out of the shadows to fight back. The Hollywood Reporter called it "An eye-opener" and RogerEbert.com quoted it as a "hard-hitting documentary." By intimately following the stories of several undocumented construction workers over four years, I have connected audiences to workers and their families featured in the film—despite their economic, ethnic and class differences—because a human story, of vulnerability and struggle, was powerfully told. We used the bold photography of South African photographer Moyo Oyelola to promote the film through images that showcased a new Americana. In the photograph below, the image of Salvadorian electricians in Texas imitates the American Gothic painting of 1930. Displaying irony and power, this is one of the images we used concurrently with the film's release to bring about thought and discussion centered around the topic of what immigrants mean to this country.
Artist Registry is a program produced by Big Meduim.
Big Medium is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting and promoting contemporary art in Texas. We provide opportunities for artists to create, exhibit and discuss their work. We strive to make art a part of everyday life.