Professor is more than an instructor

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Pete Moye'

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Patrick Dolly and Patrick Dolly

Pete Moye’
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Many Cerritos College professors split the responsibilities of personal endeavors along with their teaching duties, but Cerritos photography professor Christina Fernandez takes those duties to a whole different level.

Professor Fernandez is widely regarded by her students and co-workers alike due to her extensive knowledge in photography.

However, Fernandez is not only well respected on campus, but she is also respected off of campus as well.

She is an artist with experience in sculpting, painting, printing and photography specifically with video, photo and text, photo collage and instillation.

While her role at Cerritos is mainly as an educator, her work outside of the college is about creating in studio artwork as well as outside.

Fernandez, who primarily focuses on photography, views her continual goal of photography as constantly striving to get her work out to the masses.

She uses her desire to stay current on her art to assist in her success as an instructor as well as her personal work.

“Photography has played an important role in documenting the different movements in architecture. I think that is where the interest lies. It’s the sort of blend of sort of a symbiotic relationship between architecture and photography,” she said.

Fernandez’s combined education in photography includes Los Angeles Trade Technical College, East Los Angeles Community College and Pasadena Community College, before transferring to UCLA where she graduated.

Fernandez recalled the beginning of her interest in the arts.

“I started out as a painter, printer, and sculptor doing under grad work first at PCC [Pasadena Community College] then UCLA.”

During her time at UCLA, Fernandez decided that she wanted to work in photography.

Since she graduated from UCLA in 1989, her practice in art has been photography-based. She spoke on when she began to receive public recognition.

“As far as becoming known as a photographer, that’s a different story. I would have to say that it really emerged when I was in graduate school at California Institute of the Arts where I graduated with my masters in 1994 or so,” She said.

Following her graduation, Fernandez worked for two years as a freelance photographer. She also worked as an adjunct professor teaching photography at Pomona College, California State Long Beach, California State Los Angeles, as well as teaching full-time at the University of Florida.

During the course of time that she spent as an instructor, Fernandez was also very active in her other professional endeavors as well.

Fernandez was featured in her first group show at a major gallery shortly after graduating from UCLA, resulting in her being represented by the same major gallery that featured her work.

“The first series of work that I did between UCLA and Cal Arts was called Sin Cool.” She said.

Fernandez was inspired by the name sin cool, which means the absence of cool.

She said, “It was hot, the work was very emotional so it was absent of having coolness or a veneer to it. It was stripped. Absent of coolness. It was very raw and emotional work.”

Fernandez recalled her second body of work as the Transition series saying, “It was very much about spirituality. It was very much about how we are here and then we’re not. We disappear and appear in our lives.”

She continued, saying, “Actually, when I think about the depth of that series and the work that it produced, I can’t believe that I was 23 years old when I produced it.”

The third body of work that she completed was the Guillermina Tellez series after the legend of William Tell followed by a series titled, “Manuela Stitched.”

Inspired by a variety of things from the picture itself, lighting, particular thoughts, as well as more recently her responsive nature to her surroundings, she takes every available opportunity to capture images.

Fernandez, who is a single mother to a 5-year-old son, also balances the life of a single mother as well as the responsibilities of being a college professor with the passion of her personal photography-related endeavors.

Much of her networking and professional related establishment as an artist that shows her work in galleries and museums began before her son was born.

Along with the personal responsibly that parenthood and professionalism requires, Fernandez also has additional bodies of work such as “Maria’s Great Expedition,” “Untitled Multiple Exposure,” “Ruin,” “Space Available,” “Lavanderia,” as well as the latest series that she is currently working on, titled “Sereno.”

Growing up with an uncle with art-related talents, Fernandez was sometimes surrounded with the types of motivation that would form her passion.

However, she did not know with certainty that she possessed something special until a professor in college requested that she show her work.

Having obtained success as an artist, Fernandez is now at a point where she is able to somewhat sustain herself financially. She spoke about this by saying.

“I think that some artists are able to sustain themselves through their sales of work and others not at all. I am sort of in the middle. I do make somewhat decent money as an artist selling my work, but certainly would be living a frugal life if I were to solely depend on my sales.”

Her ultimate goal was always to have her work be shown, but she continues to set new goals. As she works on concluding her most recent body of work, Fernandez is constantly searching for the perfect shot.

Fernandez is constantly striving for continued success and is focusing on her latest interest of architectural photography.