The picture that won the APH competition is also her favorite piece of art, which depicts an instance when Hernandez’s niece was playing with her cane.
Hernandez adapted to her visual impairment by using reference pictures from her phone or tablet, allowing her to zoom into massive proportions.
“I have my phone only two inches from my face and then my canvas or sketchbook is about three inches away propped up on an easel,” Hernandez said.
When she was younger, Hernandez won the APH InSights award for the youth division.
Craig Loftin, lecturer for women and gender studies and American studiesat Cal State Fullerton, has gotten to know Hernandez in two of his classes.
“When you consider her visual disability, in light of that, it makes it more extraordinary. There’s a talent there, a vision that goes beyond what the eye can see,” Loftin said.
One of Hernandez’s pieces was put on display at Marshall B. Ketchum University for the annual Shared Visions Art Exhibit after winning the best expression of vocal culture award. She is planning to reenter in the competition this year.
Four years ago, Hernandez had perfect vision and no family history of impairments. Although she hasn’t done genetic testing yet, she said her symptoms are similar to Stargardt’s disease. She said if her disease is related to Stargardt’s disease, her retinal deterioration should have reached a plateau by now.
Hernandez has a juvenile form of macular degeneration, which means her retina in charge of her central field of vision has deteriorated. While most people see fine detail and color, Hernandez’s center vision is extremely blurry and she constantly sees neon lights.