Each piece in this body of work sports my daughter’s features when she was 6. I got pregnant at 48 and gave birth a child we named Vida (Life). She has added to my life experience and fed my work in ways I never expected. The idea of creating these intimate works sprouted from my surrendering to parental love and resignation to the emotional pain that will come, when her world shifts away from ours when she grows up. I may have tons of photos of her, but once she is gone to follow her path, my arms will be left empty. I give myself through the pieces, a chance to embrace her, always one time more, if only to her effigy. But A MI VIDA is not just about a mother and the natural, and unavoidable separation from her offspring, and the feelings the process provokes. The pieces speak of that emotional pain, the pain of separation, including one that is not natural, it is avoidable, and it is unbearable. The project explores separation within the frame of our political landscape. The pain, a thousand times greater, that must overcome a parent, and a child, when separated by force. The project aim to raise awareness about the difficult times immigrants of color are facing today, from the perspective of an emotional bond abruptly torn. Each piece aims to become a symbolic representation of every immigrant child out there, isolated and scared, trapped in federal detention centers throughout the country. They are deprived of all demonstration of love and sense of safety, and remain betrayed by our society, which fails to embrace them and claim for their lives. A MI VIDA is a denunciation of the outrageous treatment of their innocent lives, and it is an urgent request for empathy and protection against the pain of imposed separation. My terracotta pieces of pre Columbian inspiration, are meant to symbolize immigrant children for I am a first generation immigrant, a minority with a child in my arms who can’t understand the cruelty of separating families, amidst a political and social environment that has become, every day, more toxic and unsafe. The pre-Columbian connotation implies the connection that exists between people like me, Westernized individuals from Latin America, and the land we left behind, where civilizations of varied cultural achievements and refined aesthetic developments are part of our history, alongside original communities who stubbornly survive five hundred years of genocide. This connection is often overlooked, assuming immigrants of color, empty handed new comers, a-historic and unable of any contribution and therefore undeserving to become part of the cultural tapestry we imagine the United States is. The pieces aim to contribute somewhat to invest the Latin American immigrant presence with a cultural stand, hinting to the past-present that is part of our mix. Finally, A MI VIDA is also performance. Each piece has been made to be carried by a mother’s arms, they don’t belong to pedestals, their ideal presentation/state is within your embrace. They are heavy, delicate and valuable, as the life of any child should be for all of us.
Photographs by John Carlano for the exhibition MAKING PLACE MATTER with Molly Hatch and Ibrahim Said at the Clay Studio March 2022, Philadelphia