Jo Farb Hernandez

Professor & Director of the Natalie & James Thompson Art Gallery


(408) 924-4328



Masters of Art, University of California Los Angeles, CA
Bachelor of Arts - Poltical Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI
Bachelor of Arts - French, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI

Jo Farb Hernández, Professor and Director of Exhibitions and Special Projects for the School of Art and Design at San José State University, has worked in the museum field for over thirty-five years, including service as President of the California Association of Museums. A folklorist by academic training, her professional work explores a range of aesthetic forms and manifestations, straddling aesthetic boundaries in an attempt to free the discussion of artistic production from stultifying theoretical constructs that often have little relevance to the myriad of influences upon each creative act. Her curatorial efforts have been impressive and wide-ranging; she is equally comfortable with modern and contemporary as with "outsider," folk, and ethnic/tribal arts. She balances management and administrative duties and service to the field with singular curatorial projects that are informed by rigorous research, noteworthy design, and original thought, garnering awards for ground-breaking scholarship, creativity, and design. Reviews of her exhibition projects have appeared in such media organs as the New York Times, The New Yorker, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, Artweek, ArtNews, Art Journal, Art in America, Museum Anthropology, Folk Art, Folk Art Messenger, Raw Vision, and more.

Hernández concurrently serves as Director of SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments), an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to document and advocate for "outsider" art environments and other self-taught artistic activity She has conducted fieldwork on art environments since 1974 across the U.S. and in Western Europe, and on Spanish, South American, and Balkan folk arts and performance events. An award-winning writer, she has authored or co-authored over thirty exhibition books and catalogues on modern, contemporary, and outsider art; one of her most recent, Forms of Tradition in Contemporary Spain, won the prestigious Chicago Folklore Prize in 2006. Others include A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions (Harry N. Abrams, 1997), one of's "10 Best: Art and Architecture" books that year. Hernández regularly publishes articles for a variety of international art journals; serves as a panelist for local, regional, and national granting agencies; judges national, statewide, and regional exhibitions; and lectures widely at museums and universities internationally. Since 1994 Hernández has also pursued selected curatorial projects on a freelance basis through Curatorial and Museum Management Services, her consulting firm for nonprofit arts organizations; her clients have included the Archives of American Art as well as numerous museums from San Francisco to New York, Chicago to Atlanta. She is a contributing editor for Raw Vision magazine, and a member of several national and international boards for nonprofit arts organizations. Recognized as one of the primary experts in the field of "outsider art" environments, in 2008 she received a prestigious Fulbright Senior Scholar Research award to study Spanish art environments, the first ever awarded in this field. This fieldwork research forms the basis for her current book project, Where the Vernacular Meets the Eccentric: Spanish Art Environments. Jo Farb Hernández is married to sculptor Sam Hernández, Professor of Art at Santa Clara University.