Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Struck and Uprooted

Going big!

Only one more print to get ready for the upcoming exhibit at the OXS Gallery in Nevada!
These larger prints make me wonder what the heck was I thinking when I decided to go big. Miniatures! next life... But the "big ones" do tend to give me a sense of satisfaction and achievement. They take much energy and work to complete, especially when that other Maria decided to entertain large editions. Really? Anyhow, this particular image, Uprooted along with Struck happen to be two of my most heartfelt.

When art means something...

Struck

Struck, in memory of my father
Last week I finished printing an image called Struck. In 1998 or thereabouts, my father suffered a stroke and subsequently  required help to get along life. After seeing him shrunken in a wheelchair in the corner of his apartment, we took him into our home. His brother, then a contractor, built an addition to our house so that he could remain somewhat independent yet allow me to care for him.

He was lightly struck, as far as strokes go, retaining most of his abilities to walk with a limp and eventually speak normally. His right hand was near useless. Reading that stroke victims after 70 have a dismal survival rate over two years, I decided to take over his care...as much as he would let me.

During the next eleven years I ripped the wheelchair out of his life and exchanged it for a three-wheeled bicycle, later a scooter when the bicycle became impossible to pedal. He was in every sense of the word, independent (read: stubborn). We fought, we yelled, we laughed and in the end I was happy I took on the task of helping him along until the end in 2009.

Uprooted

Uprooted, for all those that leave past for future

Detail
Uprooted is a homage to all those who can't, on any given vacation, revisit their childhood home. In 1974 we immigrated to the US from Spain, but previously my family with a not-quite two year-old Maria, was uprooted from Cuba. I don't remember Cuba at all, but I do remember Spain quite well with very good and happy memories of growing up with the initial help of Las Filipenses, the happiest collection of nuns.

A family of five, we left with two suitcases about of the size of today's carry-ons and that still reside in one of my closets. The most salient memory of the trip to the US was that of leaving Barcelona on a train to Madrid, from where we would eventually fly to America. That train left in the dark of night with friends surrounding my parents. I remember someone mentioning that I wasn't crying but the phrase was muffled and distant. Then the train left and I remember entering the darkness of a tunnel.

That tunnel has stayed with me, both as a refuge and as a reminder of past places and of hopeful futures. It isn't at all depressing,  but merely a place where I felt safe and guarded from distant pasts and unknown futures. Uprooted once more, ready to grow roots in a new place yet never forgetting the last.

When I hear people talk about immigrants today, a part of me thinks of that tunnel and I know that they probably have their own safe tunnels where their souls reside temporarily until they can lay root again.