Even before I was a mother, I was inspired by motherhood. This is one of my first prints (a linocut with chinne colé) inspired by this theme. I created Motherhood in 1992, when I was still an undergraduate student at CCNY.
Later on, after I had my child, I painted this image of a mother nursing her baby in a rocking chair. I spent so many long hours doing this... Julian liked to nurse every hour... Toughest job I ever had! But it created a beautiful bond between my son and I, and he grew healthy and allergy free. I thought it was worth immortalizing the moment in a painting titled El Sillón!
This one is titled Madre Patria and the original is a watercolor. I created it for a young woman, Yomara, who wanted to give a "Puerto Rican" gift to her mother, but her mom hated everything Puerto Rican. I told her, don't worry, she will love your Puerto Rican gift! I had her pose with her young son Keanu, and created this image of tenderness to depict not only them, but a patriotic idea for all Puerto Ricans, even those who feel a little let down by the land where they were born. This is my best-selling print of all time!
Another "post-partum" painting, three years after, when my son was already weaned. Cesarea at Dawn was inspired by a poem by Tita Dalia that mentioned her c-section scar. I was making her book at the time and created a drawing as an illustration. Then one day, when I was given really bad news about my health, I spontaneously started painting this piece. When I think of why it was this image in particular that I decided to paint, I feel that it was because in my mind I made a connection between my own scars, the toll that breastfeeding had taken on my body and the life-giving ability of nature. I painted a healing image that helped me move from frustration and sadness into light and a new beginning.
Placenta is the "companion" to Cesarea. I painted them one after the other, and have always kept them together. When I was younger, I read a book that detailed the efforts of doctors to make money off women at different stages in their lives. It explained how sometimes doctors tell women that a c-section is necessary while in truth, it is just a way to charge more and make their own time more manageable. It happened to many of my friends so, long before I got pregnant, I decided to go with a midwife when the time came. I would have loved to have a completely natural birth, away from the hospital, but in the end, I decided to be practical. It was a good decision, since there were a few complications during the birth. But having the midwife was extremely wise, since she allowed me extra time before deciding to intervene, and it was during that last half hour I was given that Julian was born! This painting is my way to recreate that ideal birth, even if it didn't happen in reality, it is always possible in my imagination. While reading about breast-feeding, I learned how moms feed twins. I thought it would be very challenging to have to nurse two babies like Julian, who at first refused to nurse, and then would not leave me alone for two minutes! The mom and twins surrounded by flowers and nature and nourished by love. It is titled Twins, of course!
I began The Four Daughters of Eve before going in the hospital for three weeks for a stem-cell transplant. I left it unfinished, hoping I would be able to come back to it. I did, I took a long, long time because I was so tired and could only paint a little at a time. I wanted to paint the origins of humanity and the union between all human beings. She is now in my studio, reminding me of our immense power of survival and regeneration.
When I first discovered Mary Magdalene, I met her as the Mother. This idea connected with my previous work and this was my first painting of her. Mary Magdalene and Sarah is one of my favorite paintings because I like the peace of the moment and the little hands and feet of baby Sarah, as well as the palette. This Mary Magadalene is now in Ecuador with my friend Clemencia Cruel and her daughter Rommy, who have placed the painting in their altar. I can't imagine a better place for it!
I first learned of the Virgin of Czestochowa through my friend Raquel and fell in love with the image because I "like the idea of the Black Virgin not being of any particular ethnicity, but a representation of the life-giving power of the Earth itself, the darkness of which light is born, the "Hodegetria", One Who Shows the Way, the Mother who points to her son so that we may through her guidance reach the ultimate goal of our human journey. And I also love her because she is dark, wounded, ancient, beautiful and miraculous, and because I am also a mother with a once little, dark, byzantine eyed child. I too have many scars in my ancient body, which I am not afraid to show." I'm quoting myself, of course! and would like to add that one day I bought a little prayer card of this image for Raquel, and guess what? At the same time, that same day, in Montreal, Canada, Raquel was buying the same card (in French!) for me. One of the little Magdalene miracles that tell me life is magical and good...
Finally, and probably not the last, and this is one of my favorite themes to work, a drawing. I have been drawing a series titles "Sacred Garden" and this is one of the drawings, which I published to welcome the New Year with a little poem. Mom and baby are surrounded by leaves that cradle them both and hold them in the sacred embrace of the Universe and Mother Nature.
An early and heartfelt wish of happiness and health for all mothers, whether spiritual or physical, female or male, past and present.
With all my love,
En espanol: Las mamás en mi arte