Comfort Sessions are an outgrowth from my larger Lullaby Project, in which I am invited to homes to sing: for crying babies, for those who have insomnia, for those who are sick, for those who are dying, for those who are lonely, for those who are perverts, for those who are frightened, for those who need something but don’t know what.

This work came out of my early years as a mother to two children, in which the daily grind of motherhood wore away the edges of my own identity. I found myself again at night, by the sides of their beds: I sang songs my mother sang, I sang songs from Disney movies, I sang songs I learned from Muppets.  I sang Prince and Madonna and Cake, I sang Broadway, I sang 40s love songs and 60s pop songs and hymns and sea shanties and cowboy ballads and early American folk songs and songs in other languages. Unlike most of my day’s activities, those were moments when my own pleasure in giving was equal to the pleasure they had in receiving.

During that same period, I stopped being able to sleep myself. Following a brain injury, I developed insomnia that eroded my hours of sleep to the point that I was sleeping almost not at all. Sometimes watching my children fall asleep to my voice was as close to sleep as I could get. So, it’s not too hard to see why I would relish my role as a sandman.

When I started my work based on lullabies, I wondered if I could let myself make work that is so sincere, so utterly uncynical, if anyone would take it seriously. But I find it’s transgressive to actually sing by someone’s side; it’s not the same as singing a concert. It’s an act much closer to the work of a courtesan or prostitute: there’s a line to the level of intimacy one is supposed to have with strangers, and to sing in this way is to cross it.

Comfort Sessions will be presented as part of M Path, an exhibition in the University Galleries of Texas State. The dress and nest will be on view the entire run of the show in the galleries; two performances take place in mid-September.


August 28 – September 28, 2013  at the University Galleries of Texas State, San Marcos, TX

The University Galleries are located in the Joann Cole Mitte Building, on the corner of Sessom and Comanche Streets.  

Gallery Hours: Monday-Sunday  9AM – 10PM


Comfort Sessions by Katelena Hernandez 

Daytime: Tuesday, September 17 | Noon – 2 p.m., Gallery 1

Evening: Thursday, September 19 | 7 – 10 p.m., Gallery 1


Empath: A person who is capable of feeling the emotions of

others, despite the fact that they themselves are not in the

same circumstance.

This exhibition seeks to create an empathic gaze on the

part of the viewer to the artist’s work and the ideas contained

therein. Empathy—defined as the action of understanding, being

aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the

feelings, thoughts, and experience of another without having

the feelings, thoughts communicated explicitly—is the focus of

this group exhibition, which creates an emotional architecture

for the viewer to respond to the work. Offered in support of the

university’s Common Experience, Minds Matter: Exploring Mental

Health and Illness, the exhibition explores the nature of emotional

dissonance, unease, and evaluation. As such, identity—or lack

thereof—is used as a standard for and a path to the viewer’s

emotional responses.

M Path features works by the following artists:

Vera Barnett

Caleb Cole

Ryan Everson

Angela Fraleigh

Heyd Fontenot

Ewan Gibbs

Nigel Grimmer

Sean Hathaway / Carlos Severe Marcelin

Katelena Hernandez

Katy Horan

JunCheng Liu

Mads Lynnerup

Kristin Musgnug

Kerry Skarbakka

Hadar Sobol

Happy Valentine