New In The Studio: Disappeared/Desaparecidos

Here is another watercolor inspired by my film “Patria Querida (Dear Homeland)”.

I was confined in an internment camp for political dissidents as a young child. There I met Toni, an orphan whose parents had been taken by the Castro government. Toni was probably 13 or 14 years old and was raising his younger brother who was around eight. I was seven or so. He was very patient with all of us younger kids. One of the things he did to entertain us is dance with a human skull propped on a broom stick. He would twirl and whirl, dip and spin that thing like he was Fred Astaire and the skull were Ginger Rogers.

Although viewed as an act of defiance by the camp soldiers, Toni braved their warnings and danced with a skull to entertain us younger kids. One day the camp guards beat him to within an inch of his life. Toni couldn’t move for months, and never danced with death again.

My memories of Toni and his bravery, my memories of Cuba, mi patria querida, melt and morph in the reflections on the mercury glass skull.