Elizabeth Gómez

In my work there is an intrinsic connection between the humans, animals, and plants portrayed. In my painted stories I mix the fantastic with the prosaic and lighthearted whimsy with deeper reverberations. The women in these paintings identify with the animals and vice versa. Both are used as metaphors for one another. For instance, in the work Microclimate the young girl identifies with the rained-upon animals in her toy train: cute but trapped. She has been dressed up for a party in her little blue dress. She is caught in the role she has to play as a pretty and passive girl. With her elegant dress she will not be able to play rough with the boys. Likewise, the woman painted in Las Medias Naranjas (The Orange Halves or The Orange Stockings) identifies with the eagle in a shamanic way. She has the strength of the predator bird. Instead of hair she has feathers. She also has the destructive claws of the bird in her necklace. On the other hand, she identifies with the sweet orange. She is capable of feeding and nurturing a new life. She has reached an evolutionary stage of her consciousness that requires a more closely integrated relationship between the masculine and the feminine components of the psyche–the ecological self.1 She now possesses the traditional qualities of men–strength and assertiveness; and of women–care and compassion.

With my work I want to express a deeply felt need for spiritual ecology. I am very interested in concepts of hierarchy. I constantly wonder about the causes and consequences of a strong one overpowering a weaker one both in the wild and in our human reality. For instance, in the work The Back-Riders I portray a human riding an animal and an animal riding a human in a whimsical fashion.

My work is influenced by artists of the Latin American Magic Realist movement, who explore reality through fantastical transformations, and by Mexican popular art, which is a blend of traditions, myths, and humor with Baroque, colonial, and Catholic roots.2 I have also been influenced by the jewel-like Persian and Indian miniatures. I constantly strive for work that has the honesty of hand-made crafts. My women are portrayed in a frontal iconic manner, similar to that of the "retablos" of popular Mexican Catholicism. Popular arts around the world share characteristics such as "over decoration," use of space-flattening pattern or attention to detail that are also present in the crafts traditionally made by women3—and in my work. I often use "in pattern" as an answer to my personal "horror vacui."

I have used different panels in some of my works to enhance the feeling of a story developing in front of the viewer. Hence, in El Lazo (The Bond or The Rope), to expand on the meaning of my grandaunt walking on water with her dog, I also included two smaller panels where the mechanics of a lizard walking on water are portrayed.

With my art I want to attain a deeper understanding of my self in the environment. I am in a constant search for my ecological self.


1 Suzi Gablik, "Toward an ecological self." New Art Examiner. Jan. 1991. Vol. 1, p. 29
2Amalia Mesa-Bains, "Contemporary Chicano and Latino Art." Visions: An Art Quarterly. P. 16
3 Lucy R. Lippard, "Making Something of Nothing (towards a definition of women’s "hobby art") in Get The Message? A Decade of Art for Social Change. New York, 1984, p.100.

The Little Wound

The Little Wound is a little story. In it, a young girl is embroidering, with real string, her fantastic garden. Her innocent moment of creation is interrupted by physical pain when she pricks her finger with the needle. But her gaze denotes a greater sadness.

The girl understands for the first time that in this world, something or someone must die to give way to other life. She is sad because she has just realized that the adorable baby gophers, with their vulnerable milk-filled bellies, will have to be destroyed. They happen to live under a planted human garden and their mother is eating the plants. The gophers and snails that have often been portrayed as cute and friendly in children’s stories are really pests in the grown-up world. Her realization brings her closer into this cruel world and it hurts.

Moths

The Madonna in this retablo-like painting is enamored of her body hair. She is undergoing a metamorphosis into a mythical "moth woman." She already has acquired the moth’s antennae and her bathing suit is adorned with the moth’s patterns. She does not want to be a sleek butterfly. She prefers to glow as a hairy moth. After all, women do have hair and they have to get rid of it. The inscription at the bottom reads: "As a hairy and radiant as a moth of the light." Our Madonna is not shaving today.

The Blue Fence

In The Blue Fence, the baby girl is as innocent and delicate as a flower. But her mere existence has placed other living creatures in jeopardy. In this story, the animals within the fence are trapped and wounded so that the girl can eat them, drink their milk, use their space, or wear their leather. The tender baby is already holding the animal by a strap. She cannot walk lightly on the planet. Herein lie the beauty and the tragedy.