Theodore Payne Gallery

Alejandra Fernandez Island Above, Roots Below

Current Exhibition

Alejandra Fernandez | Islands Above, Roots Below
On view April 6 – September 7, 2024
Visit the gallery Tuesday–Saturday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM


Artist Statement

“My artistic practice is centered around nature, community and art. In this body of work I chose to depict the transformational relationship between native plant and pollinator. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the past 10 years and have learned to call it my home. I admire the diverse nature here and try to make the most of it by going to parks, doing plein-air painting and gardening. Last year I started growing herbs and native plants like California poppies, milkweed and succulents.

For my sculptural work I’ve created paper-mache vases of various plants, birds and insects native to Southern California. A Western Giant Swallowtail butterfly rises from tree roots in my piece ‘Swallowtail Vase’. The body of the vase features Howard McMinn Manzanitas, Seaside Daisies and De La Mina Lilac Verbena. A pollinator growing from the sustenance of plants, while allowing more plants and roots to take place, one of the themes in my work is to show these reciprocal gifts in motion, and the magical processes in which they take place. Butterflies have special meaning to me and in cultures around the world. In her book The Spirit of Butterflies: Myth, Magic and Art, author Maraleen Manos-Jones talks about the Aztec and Mayan Indigenous belief that our ancestors ‘returned to Earth in the form of butterflies to assure their relatives that all was well’.

My piece ‘Sacred Datura Moth Vase’ features a White-Lined Sphinx moth as the body of the vase, with Sacred Daturas growing out of the mouth of the moth. One cannot exist and grow without the other. Both flourish and take root thanks to the other, and my hope is for people to see how dream-like and fantastical nature can be.”

Island Above, Roots Below is an exhibition featuring paintings, drawings, and papier-mâché sculpture expanding on the theme of TPF’s 2024 Native Plant Garden Tour.


Alejandra Fernandez artist portrait

About the artist

Alejandra Fernandez is a Mexican-American artist based in Los Angeles. Alejandra was born in Mexico, and immigrated to Miami with her parents when she was 3 years old. Her work reflects her Mexican heritage, infusing each piece with vibrant color and sly humor. Alejandra’s upbeat tone belies a fierce activist spirit. She graduated from Art Center College of Design in 2017 with a BFA in Illustration. Her artwork is inspired by ancient Mesoamerican art and mythology and contemporary Latin American artists and musicians. Her work deals with themes of immigration, feminism, and womanhood.

Alejandra has taught art classes at several organizations, including La Casa de Esperanza in LA. She has exhibited work at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, the Society of Illustrators, and Giant Robot gallery. She is currently working as a freelance artist, and is creating an original graphic novel.