From street art to Steph Curry sneakers, Oakland artist Hueman’s creativity knows no bounds
It’s almost impossible that you haven’t seen Hueman’s work.
In the past three years alone, the artist’s bold and “ethereal” style has brightened up Lyft Bikes and the first sneakers from Steph Curry’s new shoe line, the Curry 8. She fractured portrait of Pink graces the cover of the musician’s 2019 album Hurts 2B Human; andher swirling color palette was showcased in a line 2019 of “body painted” wetsuits, jackets and athleisures at Forever 21.
Doesn’t sound familiar yet? You may remember Hueman’s collaborations with The north facethe United States women’s basketball team 2016Where NYX Cosmetics? Or maybe you saw his murals in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, ft. Lauderdale, Detroit, Gothenburg, Sweden, Port au Prince, Haiti or half a dozen other cities in the world? Or maybe you saw his recent immersive installation Homebody at Berkeley’s Ciel Creative Space, a show inspired by pandemic-induced isolation and self-metamorphosis?
Yes, you have seen her work. How could you not?
Hueman, aka Allison Torneros, has been a prolific artist since childhood (“I’m very Capricorn,” she shamelessly explains, “I’m a workaholic”). But like the transformation she captures in Homebody, Torneros has emerged from her pandemic cocoon not just as a commercial artist or designer, but as a multi-hyphenated creative director.
“I think most high-profile artists would look down on someone doing so much commercial work, but it was those projects that gave me the chance to do something like Homebodysays Torneros. His creativity is not one or the other, but both and.
Torneros grew up as a lonely artistic child in a Filipino-American family in the East Bay. She didn’t dream of being an artist; it wasn’t exactly a lucrative career path. She instead took a more hands-on path to design and media arts at UCLA, a path she might have kept had it not been for her first exhibition at the San Francisco gallery which, at 18, tore away the veil of her ambition and sent her caressing off into an unexpected future.
The next piece fell into place after college when Torneros started painting murals. She felt so alive, so removed from the robotic and computerized work she was doing, that she took on a new pseudonym: Hueman. In the male-dominated landscape of graffiti, Hueman’s signature “freestyle” approach, in which she constructs faces and images from abstract sprays and dabs of paint, has stood out. The more she hustled, the more her work paid off: her murals began to proliferate, first in Los Angeles and the Bay Area – hers was one of the first commissioned in Los Angeles after the city lifted its ban on street art in 2013 – then worldwide. .
Mural by Hueman in 2016 at the Academy for Peace and Justice in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.(Courtesy of @Hueman_)
Hueman first dabbled in immersive art in 2013 with Rituala nine-day takeover of a 6,000-foot Los Angeles warehouse filled with freestyle murals, creative collaborations and performances.
“It was very underground and the fact that it was this self-initiated stuff was super important. I was able to control the vibe and the culture of what was going on in that space,” she explains. have been chasing that dragon ever since, wanting to create something totally immersive that involves the whole community and brings people together.”
With Homebody, Torneros finally got it, ironically rallying the community around a show about pandemic isolation. Although the multi-venue exhibit left Ciel at the end of February, the show, designed to travel, will reopen in the new LA Mirus Gallery later this year, and hopefully others down the road.
“He’s my big baby right now,” Torneros says.
In fact, this is just one of many offspring she is raising at the moment, the most important of them being her two-year-old daughter, Sophie. “I have some huge collabs coming up this year,” she teases, along with “a few NFT projects coming out in the next few months.”
Yeah, like she said, she’s a Capricorn.
Allison Torneros, aka Hueman, in her Oakland studio.(Courtesy of @Hueman_)