ISSUE: Winter 2012-13
STORY: Malissa Tem
Spray paint cans and unfinished canvases line the floor of Allison Torneros’ shared art studio. A self-described pop surrealist artist, Torneros uses acrylic, spray paint and other media to bring her vivid imagination to life on canvas. She begins the process by aimlessly splattering paint onto the canvas until a form begins to appear. At times, it is her own face that takes center stage in her paintings.
“When you step back and look at it together, it creates its own story,” says Torneros of her work. Her paintings often reflect her mood or her personal struggles growing up as a Filipina American in the San Francisco Bay Area. While attending Catholic high school, Torneros says she was characterized as the promiscuous bad girl, and later, the innocent schoolgirl, something that Torneros believes arose out of pop culture rather than actual traits that she possessed at that time. One of her showcases features paintings of the two major stereotypes often cast on Asian American women — the Dragon Lady and the Lotus Blossom.
These days, the 27-year-old is often better known by her professional alias, Hueman. “‘I am not a robot, I am a human’ — it was a mantra I said to myself to snap out of a bad funk,” says Torneros. She has ventured out onto a bigger canvas — wall murals. It seems a natural progression for someone whose fine-art-meets-street-art aesthetic grew out of the world of hip-hop, something her late brother introduced her to. “I grew up admiring murals, but the big thing that held me back was that I was a woman,” says Torneros.
“[The mural art scene] seemed so male-dominated and ego driven, and I didn’t want to deal with it.”
But when she moved to L.A. and her work started getting bigger (both literally and figuratively), Torneros realized she had found her calling.
“When I started doing more murals, I was meeting people and I began using my whole body to do my art,” says Torneros. “I felt more human.”