My solo exhibit, Fragmentos, which was curated by Dolores Mercado of the National Museum of Mexican Art opened in January of 2014 and closed in July of that same year. Just before it closed, I was informed that my husband, David Spargur, had stage IV prostate cancer so advanced that doctors offered us very little hope. In fact, the most hope they gave us, if he agreed to a rigorous treatment of radiation, chemo, and hormone therapy, was a possible 3 years of life. Needless to say, David agreed to this—much to my dismay. I say this because I wanted him to pursue something less traditional and far less barbaric, but it was his life and his decision to make. After seeking a second opinion at Mayo Clinic and being told that they concurred with his local doctor's prognosis and proposed treatment, his battle began in September of 2014.
I stopped making art, focused on caring for David, and embarked on a futile attempt to keep him alive by changing his diet and giving him supplements—foolishness on my part because this monster of a disease was so far beyond my control that it didn’t help David at all—just me. Shortly after completing the treatment, the prostate cancer differentiated into a much more aggressive disease called neuroendocrine cancer. Consequently, David passed away on June 26, 2015. Watching his health decline and finally losing him had a numbing effect in some ways, yet in other ways, I felt more emotions than I ever imagined I could feel and still endure life here on earth. For certain, I felt incapable of anything creative until March of 2017, when I spoke with Dolores Mercado, curator at the National Museum of Mexican Art.
During that conversation Ms. Mercado invited me to participate in this year's Day of the Dead exhibit. She suggested that creating an ofrenda for David could result in a cathartic experience for me. As she quietly spoke, I listened and before she could finish telling me to think about it, I interrupted her and told her that I wanted to participate. When I got off the phone, the creative process began—thoughts, sketches, drawings, and inspiration from an excerpt of Lorca’s Balada de la placeta. As Dolores predicted, it was indeed cathartic from beginning to end.
So, yes—I finished and I hope that you can see it. The following is information about the exhibit:
TILACA Y FLACA ES LA CALACA
6.75’H x 6’W x 3.89’D
Welcome Home was created in memory of my husband, David Spargur, who passed away on June 26, 2015. It was my desire to create a piece that would be contemporary in its expression, yet be based on the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead. David’s portrait, his personal belongings, the skulls, candles, crucifix, papel picado, incense, favorite food and drink are some elements typically found in a Mexican Day of the Dead ofrenda.
With regard to contemporary expression, I often use found objects in my work and in this case, the primary object is a hall tree. It was chosen because I felt it appropriate in that it is used in a home to place keys, hats, umbrellas, etc., when one returns home--this ties into the belief that on the Day of the Dead, the deceased return to their homes to visit their loved ones who remain here on earth and I imagine David returning home as he did in life.