Some time ago, I wrote several vignettes about my family's migration north from Mexico City to Kankakee, Illinois—of all places. I have begun a series of paintings inspired by these stories. I created collages for each vignette and then larger scale paintings. In the case of Fig Tree Girl, I created a small oil painting as well, which is shown below.
I am honored to have been invited to participate in the Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS) Annual Conference, March 22-23, 2018, at the University of Southampton's Winchester campus. where a number of Latin American female artists will be discussing their work and their creative process. Because I am unable to attend, I will be sending this video in my place.
I took this video in LA’s MoMA as I stood on the steps leading to the lower level—the man walking, then pausing when he saw me, was not planned. The piece, "I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art", was created by John Baldessari in 1971.
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 affect 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.
"I See Red", which is now part of the National Museum of Mexican Art's permanent collection, will be traveling to the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico! It is a privilege to be in the exhibit, The House on Mango Street: Artists Interpret Community, along with so many talented artists from the U.S. and Mexico.
The House on Mango Street: Artists Interpret Community
The National Museum of Mexican Art presents a new exhibition inspired by the novel The House on Mango Street by the accomplished Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros. The contemporary works of art on display are based on some of the central topics brought to light in this consciousness-raising novel.
I am so proud to be part of this exhibit with such an incredibly talented group of artists from the U.S. and Mexico. The National Museum of Mexican Art kicks the event off on April 16, 2015 at 6:00 pm with musical vignettes and a performance of Reginald Robinson's musical compositions, which were inspired by Ms. Cisneros' novel, The House on Mango Street. Even more fabulous, since she is one of my favorite writers, is that Sandra Cisneros will read selections from this novel. For more information, please visit the National Museum of Mexican Art's website.
The exhibit opens to the public on April 17, 2015 and runs through August 23, 2015. The piece I will have on display is called I See Red and is shown below. It became part of the museum's permanent collection in July of 2014.
Photos below courtesy of Evonne Acevedo Johnson.
I have four works on paper in En el espíritu de Frida, a group exhibit of five very talented artists. If you missed the opening reception on the 21st of November, First Friday Trolley Hop presents a fun opportunity to visit our exhibit at Swanson Contemporary on Friday, December 5, 2014—the First Friday Trolley Hop pf December!
Here is some information about the Trolley Hop as described by the Louisville Downtown Management District:
The Republic Bank First Friday Trolley Hop is an art show, tourist attraction, street party and celebration of downtown Louisville that brings new visitors and new life to the Main and Market corridor. The Trolley Hop takes place on the first Friday of each month from 5-11pm, rain or shine. Most of the galleries close around 9 pm but the restaurants, clubs, and shops stay open later. The trolleys run until 11pm.
The Republic Bank First Friday Trolley Hop is free and open to the public and can be boarded at any trolley stop along the route.
FREE parking is available at Slugger Field, Main Street at Jackson, and the 4th St. Live! garage after 6 pm. Free parking is also available on the street after 6 pm. Click here to view a map of the trolley route and parking options.
This is what Elizabeth Kramer of the Courier-Journal, Critic's Pick writer had to say about our exhibit:
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who died at 47, leaving a legacy of being an outspoken artist and champion of marginalized people. Her work on both counts had inspired many, including Louisville artist Joe McGee who organized "En el Espiritu de Frida," that includes his work as well as pieces by four other artists, including fellow Louisvillian Jacque Parsley. Another is Kentucky-based artist Diane Kahlo (a distant cousin) who has painted nearly 100 portraits for "Wall of Memories: Las Desaparecidas de Ciudad Juarez" ("The Missing Women of Juarez"), which pays tribute to women killed or kidnapped in the Mexican border area with Texas. Also included are works by Mari Mujica who has produced photographs directly related to Kahlo's transgender impersonators in Mexico City and has new 3D work for the show, and by Pilar Acevedo, a Mexico City native and accomplished artist living near Chicago. McGee called her work reminiscent of Kahlo's. All written materials in English and Spanish courtesy of the University of Louisville Modern Languages Department.
WHEN: Friday through Jan. 3
WHERE: Swanson Contemporary, 638 E. Market St.
COST: Free admission
INFORMATION: (502) 589-5466, www.swansoncontemporary.com
En el espíritu de Frida opening night reception at Swanson Contemporary on November 21, 2014.