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I. I left University, and Art school, in 1969, to travel, to discover what had inspired people of every culture to create the beauty, the rhythm and harmony, I felt was lacking in the contemporary art world. I grew up in Lima, Perú, with all the richness of its pre-incan past until the death of my father. In 1963, at the age of fifteen, my sister Grace, my brother Victor and my mother Jeanne, moved back to Ann Arbor, Michigan, her birth place, to continue hers and our education.
During my youth, the dark years of existential crisis, my work arose out of questioning myself, life, and the need to leave a trace of moment lived. I returned in 1977 to USA, to Gasparilla Island, so that my two young sons could grow close to their grandmother; she built Gasparilla Island Studios, and my work in clay and silk was a joyful celebration of the good life in that pristine, barely populated, primordial world that we lived in. The island, with its abundant sea life, lush vegetation, white sands and turquoise waters, was a gentle, giving, and supportive environment for all.
At forty, my sons were becoming independent, and I again needed to redefine myself; design and color no longer satisfied me. If the work was not used as clothing but to be hung on a wall, they needed to say something, I didn't want my work to be merely decorative. I needed to say something. Circumstantial and existential concerns converged, as well as guilt because I was so grateful for all which had been given us, for all that I had done and achieved; it allowed me to confront my shadow as I did not want to carry a burden, a weight; was that emptiness causing the painful imbalance in my body? A stress which wouldn't allow me to heal, and pulled me down? Pulled the muscles so that on one side of my back they were hard like a rock and on the other too soft, gone, so that I was bent sideways? This difficult passage which lasted nine months, was a gestation for the retablos. I now had subject matter. I realized the motives which had caused the illness and the change needed to begin about healing. I saw that perhaps memories are stored in the body, and that illness could be a positive way of remaking oneself, letting go of past programing. I felt that pain, like a fire, cleanses our body, our mind, our past, and from the ashes one rises like a phoenix.
At forty eight, after my sons left home, and the death of my mother and the ending of a relationship, I no longer had the energy to construct the boxes and frames; the clay panels, were exposed and vulnerable, like myself. I had lost my frame and my protection. In time, the pieces became larger as I gained strength to leave my home of twenty three years.
In 2001, I moved to Costa Rica; a country which instead of spending on arms and war, benefited its citizens and protected its forests; the island I had left, through the years had lost its innocence. The clay panels, breaking in the firings, reflected the breaks in my personal world as well as the world outside when the twin towers fell in NYC three months after I left USA. It was the end and beginning of a new era.
I left the gravity of the clay and the intensity of the firings and began to paint large canvases in which new found energy and freedom were released. My arms wanted to fly, colors were light. In the beginning they were abstract, as I was in a limbo or a womb. Images slowly emerged, and became more realistic as I gained footing and direction and realized I had once again withdrawn into the kitchen of the house of my childhood where I had once found simplicity and warmth. But I missed culture. There has been a constant dialectical struggle in my life. Culture versus Nature. But, in addition, there were my feelings of identification with people who lived close to the land. My mother was an educated, progressive and outspoken artist, who designed our glass, wood and concrete homes surrounded by gardens containing her beautiful sculptures, and what is more, she brought a garden with all its tones of green and one white anthurium into the house itself. My father was an eminent cardiologist, talented in the arts and who, in my opinion, died because he couldn't leave his responsibilities and dedicate more time to the music he loved to compose. This became clear when I reached the age at which he died. I had blamed his death on the society he had dedicated his life to. Nature was his best medicine. I took refuge in Her, in him; as when he died he became the trees, the sea, the mountains, the river, and all he loved. I realized that now, I could no longer deny my upbringing, I needed to open up.
In 2004, I returned to the Mediterranean. Not to Greece, where I had lived for 2 years during my early twenties, but to Mallorca, the Garden of Beauty and Plenty. I could finally resolve the conflict between Nature and Culture and make my home. Once again I began to work with the clay, the earth of Mallorca. It signified The Return to the Garden; in a world spinning faster with no concern for future generations, I needed to tend the garden, tending our spirit, the true source of beauty and harmony.
II. Some of the work comes from an energy, a force that wants to rise in colors, in a burst of life, basic, beautiful and simple as in the batics and oils. Sometimes it is a meditation, a conversation with the Unknowable. When there is no clarity, when I am in a state of limbo or when life seems to be moving too fast and I can't clearly see my direction, Reality dissolves into Abstraction, and painting becomes the medium where by I can study my situation, its an attempt to center myself, observe, understand, change, dissolve an emotion, allow an emotion to surface. This manner of working can also happen in the clay, as the The Choir of the Unborn which came into being as a collage made up from fragments intended for other clay pieces. All the images have come from life; when a composition needs to be brought into balance, I wait for what feels right visually and intellectualy; even though I may not understand it at the time, I know nothing is accidental but has its roots in the Unknowable Order of being of which the present moment is its flower.
Sometimes an image surfaces in my mind with respect to my thoughts as in People who are Wall and sometimes the emotion is very clear and I search for an image and through visualization, and working with the clay over time, I gain strength, as in retablo #15, where I needed to cut attachments in order to leave the Island.
Sometimes, most times, it is to assert, create, the positive, as in retablo #16 where going through fear, [of myself], I enter the world of color.
Sometimes I record an epiphany, as in #1, while resting overwhelmed by exhaustion after hanging an exhibition, I saw my work as flowers rising out of my body and felt the Earth to be a living being, evolving like us [maybe even through us, her children].
All the works, and the life that happens to them and through them, show the truth of a situation as in #14, which was fired too soon too fast and broke in the kiln, reflecting the state of my relationship; our broken bodies separated, but our minds, our souls, were still joined.
Sometimes I commemorate an occasion, a meaningful event, as the immense release i felt after burning diaries and papers in Burning Letters.
Sometimes the work comes out of sympathy, empathy, as in retablo #13, where I wanted to help a woman from a terrible situation exposed on television. I wanted to protect her, and myself, discharge the emotion of what I had witnessed, reconnect us with something pure, brighter than the dark world of ignorance and pain. Some pieces related to my and a world situation or event; in 2008 The Wall, The Crack in the Wall done to ease, my life, happened just before the present economic collapse.
The work, like a barometer, reflects my mood, which can be transformed after minutes of working or like in painting #22, Crucible, done over the course of two years which shows the ascension and reintegration of the divided woman. Painting #7 began as a woman floating in bliss, innocence, and turning around the canvas clockwise, [the passage of time] it showed she was falling and he, looking ahead, held her up. Some works transcend actual time.
I listen and observe, I try not to judge or control the process, but to avoid portraying the negative, instead, I find the via positiva out of darkness. In the retablos for Ecdysis, I suddenly realized the bodies were skins, of old lives lived now. It was time to look back and review and assess the new direction. I saw the new being going towards the future, become part of a new theme, the People of the Flow aware of The Wave Passing Through them.
Even though the work is personal, I am conscious there are many in the same situation, and the work, receives and gives strength through this invisible connection, and takes me to understand the meaning of communion, and how Art is its expression.
December, 2011. Sisyphus 2011, folder of 7 etchings can be seen in the Prints and Drawings Study Room of the Victoria Albert Museum, London.
May, 2012. Galeria Es Puig, Soller.
October, 2012. Galeria Sa Tafona La Residencia, Deia Mallorca.