Jeff Hamada: Describe where you are right now in as much detail as possible.
Herikita: At home, in my room, my daughter tells me that the dog ate her banana, and in fact he smells like it. Agatha is crying, the dog is licking his lips and looking at me with a guilty face. There’s images of John Shelley stuck on the wall, prints of my paints, sketches and messages written in Post It’s that say that words have power. I strongly believe in writing stuff that I want for my life, I have them stuck to my computer, words that give me strength, I feel that I’m attacking something good.
The calendar I made this year is to my left hanging from the wall with pictures of the 3 of us — Carlos, Agatha and me — a lot of paint jars, brushes, an entire collection of pillows sewed by my mom, my “colcha de retazos” extended on my bed, and “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy” by Queen is playing.
Jeff: What’s your daily routine like?
Herikita: I basically see my daughter sleeping, I get up to prepare her breakfast, I take her to the kindergarten and I come to work. I paint all morning, then I pick her up for lunch and in the afternoon we play and sometimes I paint while playing “hide and seek.” I have manipulated this game so that I just keep painting, sitting and count to 10. She hides and I guess from my desk where she could be hidden and when I guess she comes out of hiding. We also make cookies or pizza. Agatha is a being from another world who came to make me live my childhood again, basically that is my day. Then we sleep seeing some series that I explain to her or read one of the many books that I bought thinking about both, by the way she is 3 years old.
Jeff: You have a really distinct style, can you talk a little bit about your aesthetic and what it was like finding your voice as an artist?
Herikita: I have always spoken from my position as a woman, as a girl, as a teenager, as a mom. It is the most natural thing that comes out from me, it is what I know the most. All my life I have always painted women, maybe it is the figure that I’m more familiar with, but I remember I started painting women with big bodies and small heads because for me the inner child has always been there. It’s like a voice inside that is still intact. It’s like having a child’s head and an adult body. I like talking from my experience cause I believe is the most sincere thing, in my paintings, it’s all me.
Jeff: Do you feel like what you’re doing now is the thing you were born to do?
Herikita: Totally, I’ve always painted, I’ve always felt the need to show that world that was in my head, to pass it through my hands so that others can see it.
Jeff: Your images often feel like allegories, like there are hidden meanings or perhaps more personal reasons for including things like a tiger or a snake. Are there?
Herikita: Always in my paintings there are codes in some way, animals that are really people. Let’s say there is a painting of a woman telling a horse “this feeling is bigger than me” the horse is my daughter before birth and I am the woman. There is never anything in my paintings that is not premeditated. I try to be as honest as I can with myself, sometimes others understand what they want and that is also fine.
Jeff: Is there an aspect to your work that is particularly Colombian?
Herikita: Well, Colombia is a beautiful country, where there is diversity of beautiful entities and incredible nature I think these two things are always recurrent in my work. I was raised in nature so it is a very important aspect in my work.
Jeff: What motivates you to make art?
Herikita: I do not want to die, I do not want to leave my step in vain. I want my paintings to survive, I want to tell the story of my life to whoever is interested. I think that life can not be just to born and to die and that you have to leave a mark on others, in the world, whatever it means.
Jeff: Who are some other artists inspiring you these days? Who should we be following on Instagram and what do you like about their work?
Herikita: Definitely Tom Schamp. He’s an illustrator of children’s books but his work is loaded with secret messages or I think so.
Jeff: What’s one thing you want to accomplish this next year?
Herikita: Well, my list of things I want to achieve is very long, but I will say that I want to start an illustrated book this year.
Jeff: Would love to see that! What are you most proud of at this point in your life? This doesn’t have to be art-related, but it could be.
Herikita: Every day I think everything could have gone so wrong, but everything is fine. I am an optimist, I think, maybe not. I think I’m proud of not having ruined it, in general.