Eight months ago I lost my mother.
Four years ago I lost my father.
Three years ago I lost my husband.
One year ago I lost my best friend.
The ache, the sorrow, the grief, the tears . . .
During this period, my identity as a wife, daughter, mother, and friend shifted and transformed. My identity as both woman and artist expanded.
When the Triton Museum offered me a solo show, I accepted this invitation as an opportunity to create a totally new body of work. The gallery space informed the creation of the work with its openness and light. I measured every inch of available wall without any preconceived idea of how the work would evolve.
I had recently visited my mother’s now-empty house in Brazil and this space also informed my work. As I sat there in silence, I thought of my parents long-ago wedding gifts, a few liquor glasses still untouched sitting forever on the crystal shelf. I thought of their wedding day, my mother in all white, her white bouquet and white cake. White flower as blood-tinged rose.
As a small child, I revered my mother. But, I also felt anguish amidst the dependence, obedience and repentance. I had visions of being helpless and naked, coming out of my mother’s womb, our blood still mingled. The void of the heavens.
Poring through boxes of old photographs, welcoming the mental process of looking into the past, I wondered when the act of remembering becomes the act of imagining : the smell, the taste, the memories, the heat, the sadness, the raindrops the size of dinner plates, all resonated with the emptiness within.
Stories of my father’s Italian-born parents who died before my birth, and of my maternal grandmother’s childhood in Spain filled my mind. She raised me. I still dream of the ship that carried her to Brazil and how she never returned to her native land. None of my grandparents were born in Brazil. The gaze plumbs infinity, the pink forever escaping it.
The women in my family were defiantly strong and hard working. They were highly intelligent, undereducated, sadly repressed, heroic women. But I believed some of their suffering was self-imposed. From my childhood perspective, being born female was a curse. I rebelled against everything feminine and, in the process, rejected my interest in the arts. A cry for more than crazy pink.
I wanted to embody the freedom my brother possessed; I wanted my brain to be challenged and worshipped. I wanted to be regarded for my mind not for my looks. I ended up becoming an electrical engineer like my brother, and also completed a masters degree in business administration, as if to prove there was more to me than red scribbles. Ring around a rosie.
As different and as fortunate as my life has been in comparison to the life of my ancestors, I became an immigrant as well. Pink dawn, pink white, pink shift, pink Sao Paulo, pink San Francisco.
Shortly after arriving in the US, my newly found freedom allowed me to embrace the arts, despite the far-away protests of my family. Sacred rose, rose profane.
ROSA LOUCA DOS VENTOS was inspired by the autobiographical and developed as I accepted all sides of myself. The crazy pink is the crazy pink, a red rose, a cry for more than flower color.
It also celebrates our shared experience, the human condition and its cycle of death, rebirth, and transformation. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
When creating pieces for this show, I continued my use of abstract imagery which in this case represents the impermanence of our worldly lives. Seeing is only one part of the story. It’s easy to be fooled by our eyes, which can only see so far. Optical Delusions.
The symbols—thorns, roses and thread—are the elements of the soul. Instinct, Emotion and Intellect.
My process of working is highly intuitive. The rose has been present in my work for some time, while some of the other symbols have newly emerged. The rose for me, is both soul and female spirit, a celebration of womanhood.
The symbolism of the imagery and the meaning behind the use of color has become more critically important in my work. After completing the project, I discovered that a blue rose is the symbol of the impossible and took it as a fitting metaphor. I have embraced my roles as woman, artist, mother. I see myself for what I am : expressive and exuberant, unique yet connected. The torn branch born in the rosebush.