Water has so many states…it can be solid, fluid, or vapor. Like our memories. Some are so concrete they are heavy like a glacier, others vanish like so much mist in a breeze. In this self-portrait I wanted to capture the feeling of memories washing over me.
This is Border Crossing (Touch 4), Mixed media on stretched polyester film, a modest
22″h x 30″w.
This series embraces the fluid space between the past and the present, between a homeland lost and a homeland gained. Here each wave meets at my heart with a gesture of embrace. The translucency of the polyester film points to a space between actual and conceptual representations. The viewer can see the recycled wood stretchers, sometimes the wire, and construct in their minds how the image comes to be. Viewing becomes a surrogate to the creative act.
It’s a self-portrait based on personal memories, but these memories are more than mine, they belong to all of us. At the core of the Migration series, itself part of the Triumphs project, is the exploration of archetypes. And that rich treasure house of primal imagery is hardwired into all our bodies, yours and mine.
This is Border Crossing (Touch 5), 24″h x 36″w from the Migrations series, in which I explore the archetype of the Hanged Man, with all its tropes of sacrifice, suspension, and new perceptions. Migrations are not just the physical ones– we leave one country for another. Or metaphysical– we transition from life to death. Migrations can be the internal journeys our minds make as we scrub the landscapes of our memory.
My family and I were sent to an internment camp for political dissidents when I was a young child. My childhood crush, Toni, would entertain us younger kids in the camp by dancing with a skeleton. He was full of life, and comic passion as he danced with that skeleton! As a political refugee, the loss of my homeland is a bittersweet caress, and his dance a symbol that haunts me still. It represents the resilience and joie de vivre of the human spirit.
I draw every day, on good paper, in my sketchbook, on my iPhone, anywhere, really. I also use my camera as a sketching tool!
Why not? It’s easy to try out a lot of ideas, capturing images that I can play with later in a variety of media.
My work delves deeply into different archetypes, and after two years of working with The Hanged Man, I am eager to move on. I’ve been exploring the archetype, Union of Opposites over the last year, but everything about the archetype demands huge time commitments. Gotta wait for a sabbatical or summer to dig in. Bummer.
So for now, I am playing with the idea of multiple realities and ways of knowing…yup, archetype of the High Priestess. So I’ve begun sketching what I call a series of Fata Morganas. Part Morgan Le Fay, part mirage.
This is a picture of my father, Dr. Jose Manuel Garmendia Socarras. He was a doctor. An idealist and romantic, he stayed in Cuba after everyone else in his family had fled because he wanted to heal the poor and build a just society in his homeland.
He was tortured by Fidel Castro’s secret police, the G-2, for his good deeds. He died at 36 years old. Fidel died yesterday at 90. Don’t blame me for banging on a drum and dancing La Conga while chanting “At last, Cuba Libre!”
Ever feel like you’re frozen? Just got home from teaching and am tumbling back under the covers to fend off the chills.
Autumn fevers are the worst!
I love this painting by Andrew Wyeth. Although it is entitled “Spring” (which sounds all sunny and flowery to me), I love how the whole world seems to have thawed out but this old man (Old Man Winter?) is downright frozen to the spot. It’s how I feel right now!
Love Wyeth. All his work is so sun drenched. Got a chance to see his Helga paintings when they came to SAM. OMG, they’re so sensual!
Right around the corner from his erotically charged Helga paintings (Just look at how he recorded the light glinting off of Helga’s pubic hair), there was this one portrait he painted of his wife lying in a field, with a HAT on her face. He pretty much spent more time depicting the dog than his wife!
I kept comparing the way he depicted them. How does the song go? “Things that make you go Hmmm.”
I compared his paintings and thought, Whoa, his wife was way more civilized than me. I would have whopped the side of his head with a cast iron pan!
Last March I was reading the latest issue of Marie Claire, a fashion magazine. In one article I was horrified to read about a boat that sank with 850 Syrian refugees aboard. I was struck by the distance between the advantaged life of the journal’s readership and the desperate immigrants seeking asylum. In remembrance, I made a cilice embellished with 850 teardrop briolettes, each marking a drowned refugee.
A cilice is a horsehair garment worn next to the skin for the mortification of the flesh in penance.
This is Somnambulist #3, the third self-portrait I’ve done wearing the cilice in my studio. Sometimes I feel like a sleepwalker unable to awaken and change the world in any significant way. It’s all so impossible. So I seek my easel.
OMG…after all the presidential votes are counted today we’ll either wanna kill ourselves or breathe a sigh of relief.
In case you’re still breathing on Thursday…come to the opening of Small Works at Dendroica Gallery on Capitol Hill. I have two self-portraits from the Migrations series. Looks like I’m drowning in both of them. You’ve seen the news lately… Can’t blame me, eh?
Never a dull day, let me tell you. So yesterday my office window shattered. Oh no, I thought, some poor bird hit the window so hard it broke, poor thing musta died. Uh, today the custodial engineers came out to replace the window and pulled out a 9mm slug. Quite a different story. Apparently earlier a rapist was arrested about a block away after firing shots in the air, random like. One of his stray bullets broke my window.
Time to move my desk away from windows, don’tcha think?
Yup, teaching in an urban campus –it’s always a party!
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today for ArteFest, the Gates Foundation’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration.
What an honor to be inside the foundation that is making such a huge difference all around the world, and what a thrill to meet so many philanthropists!
I’m also in awe of the sheer creative energies and talents of my fellow Latinex artists.
Thank you so much to Susi Collins, Pilar Pacheco, Izmir Santiago, Io Blair-Freese for being such brilliant hosts, and to Irene Gomez at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture for bringing us all together.