Mariee Juarez of Guatemala
Age: 19 mos.
Died May 10, 2018, New Jersey
(after being held at ICE detention in Dilley, TX)
Next in my ongoing tribute to children who have died in ICE custody:
Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, Age 8, of Guatemala.
Died Dec. 24, 2018, New Mexico
His story, via CNN.
In a posthumus piece in People Magazine, his mother said 'he always wanted a bike'...
I'd like to give him that bike, and will incorporate it into the final painting.
I am embarking on an extended project honoring the child asylum seekers who have died in ICE custody. They will each then be incorporated together into a single painting in time for El Dia de los Muertos. My first homanaje is to Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, age 7, of Raxruha, Guatemala.
Died Dec. 8, 2018, in New Mexico. Here is her story via PBS NewsHour.
What I discovered while drawing her was how she had outgrown her shirt and jeans. She seems as though she might have been a little uncomfortable in them.
I tried to make the drawing as accurate as possible, given the quality of the original photo.
It is emotional work.
As told by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD, Women Who Run With the Wolves:
"There is an old woman who lives in a hidden place that everyone knows but few have seen. As in the fairy tales of Eastern Europe, she seems to wait for lost or wandering people and seekers to come to her place.
She is circumspect, often hairy, always fat, and especially wishes to evade most company. She is both a crower and a cackler, generally having more animal sounds than than human ones.
They say she lives among the rotten granite slopes in Tarahumara Indian territory. They say she is buried outside Phoenix near a well. She is said to have been traveling south to Monte Alban in a burnt out car with the back window shot out. She is said to stand by the highway near El Paso, or ride shotgun with truckers to Morelia, Mexico, or that she has been sighted walking to to market above Oaxaca with strangely formed boughs of firewood on her back. She is called by many names: La Huesera, Bone Woman, La Trapera, The Gatherer, and La Loba, Wolf Woman.
The sole work of La Loba is the collecting of bones. She is known to collect and preserve especially that which is in danger of being lost to the world. Her cave is filled with the bones of all manner of desert creatures: the deer, the rattlesnake, the crow. But her specialty is said to be wolves.
She creeps and crawls and sifts through the montañas, mountains, and arroyos, dry riverbeds, looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled an entire skeleton, when the last bone is in place and the beautiful white sculpture of the creature is laid out before her, she sits by the fire and thinks about what song she will sing.
And when she is sure, she stands over the criatura, raises her arms over it, and sings out. That is when the the rib bones and leg bones of the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred. La Loba sings some more, and more of the creature comes into being; its tail curls upward, shaggy and strong.
And still La Loba sings so deeply that the floor of the desert shakes, and as she sings, the wolf opens its eyes, leaps up, and runs away down the canyon.
Somewhere in its running, whether by the speed of its running, or by splashing its way into a river, or by way of a ray of sunlight or moonlight hitting it right in the side, the wolf is suddenly transformed into a laughing woman who runs free towards the horizon.
So it is said that if you wander the desert, and it is near sundown, and you are perhaps a little bit lost, and certainly tired, that you are lucky, for La Loba may take a liking to you and show you something— something of the soul."
More from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés : http://www.clarissapinkolaestes.com/works.htm
Lotería de Tucson 2018 was an exhibition featuring mixed media creations about Greater Tucson by 54 Arizona artists. The original works of art were photographed and published to comprise a deck of Lotería cards. Sales proceeds of the card decks benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
The box design is my interpretation of some of the things that make me proud to be a Tucsonense.
This piece is fashioned after one of the 10th card in Mexico's national game, ¡Lotería!. The Mexican version of the card is simple (right), and has a companion dicho (saying):
El que a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le cobija.
(He who nears a good tree, is blanketed by good shade.)
However, I don't do anything simple, so I expanded my interpretation to symbolize a Tree of Life. I found inspiration from the fabulous yarn painting of the Huichol Indians of Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental, and "painted" with my computer mouse as if I was working with yarn. The paintings are all-digital, created using the software program, Adobe Illustrator.
The concept of a tree of life is a widespread archetype in the world's mythologies; a sacred tree in religious and philosophical tradition. The tree of knowledge, connecting to heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or cosmic tree. My interpretation is one akin to connecting all forms of creation, and I include animals & insects found in our Sonoran corner of the world: the bat, bees, hummingbirds, the cardinal, the jaguar, sky-island squirrel, a pair of deer, the owl*, and of course, the mythical serpent, La Corua.
* The pinwheel design on the owl's breast is that of a peyote cactus bud - the spiritual hub of Huichol culture.
Long existing as an all-but-forgotten outpost in Mexico's northern frontier, Tucson's customs have deep indigenous/Mexican/Catholic roots. The annual calendar here is still defined by Catholic and folk celebrations, and June 24 marks St. John the Baptist's Feast Day - La Fiesta de San Juan. Without the Santa Cruz River, Tucson's existence would not have been possible, and as the desert hermit who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, San Juan has special meaning for Mexican families. Tucson's seasonal calendar also turns around this time; from the dry summer months of May & June towards the summer monsoon season; which generally begins around the 1st of July.
El Día de San Juan is a day for musicians to serenade people named Juan or Juana at dawn, for family picnics by sources of water, and for engaging in water fights and bathing. Because water was used in the baptizing of Jesus, it was believed to have special powers on this day. For example, if one had eye problems, cures were sought by washing one's eyes in a stream.
La Fiesta de San Juan begins with a religious procession carrying a statue of St. John the Baptist to his customary altar to preside over the fiesta-- followed by a blessing ceremony performed by Aztec dancers. There follows an evening of live music and dance, games, piñata-breaking for kids, and food & craft vendors.
Historically, the fiesta also included lively celebrations and competitions on horseback. From the late 19th Century into the early 20th, there was a popular sport called Corrida de Gallos (Rooster Game). It involved burying a rooster up to its neck in sand while young men on horseback took turns racing towards it, attempting to pull it out of the ground as they galloped by. Due to its violence it was eventually discontinued. For many years, incredible young charras (horsewomen) known as Escaramuzas ("skirmish") put on rousing performances conducting elaborate dressage maneuvers at a full gallop, riding sidesaddle. Sadly, this rich tradition has been absent in recent Fiesta de San Juan's.
In my painting, I have tried to capture the essences of the many peoples and factions that give summer its meaning here in Sonoran Arizona:
Former La Corua clients, Kevin & James, remain good friends, and I love doing the occasional project for them. They have expanded their fabulous vintage folk art store to include an small art gallery. Check them out!
A journal of inspirations, interpretations and lasting impressions.