|Lucía Ángela Pérez|
Gloria Osuna Pérez, Abuelita
My mother and artist Gloria Osuna Pérez gave up on her battle with Ovarian Cancer in June of 1999. This would be the end of a career that brought about recognition and love to the Mexican community. My mother devoted her skills to her people, which she believed were as beautiful as the earth. She painted her neighbors, children, and the workers who have built our communities with dignity and respect. She wanted her public to recognize the beauty of her culture and wasted no time holding back her paintings, which came on canvases of all shapes and sizes.
In admiration of her persistence and amazing talent, it has become my goal to see to it that she receives the recognition that she deserves. In my view my mother was an important part of the art community, and was also a beautiful woman with a graceful spirit. Not only was she a mother to me but a friend that I could share my knowledge and artistic views with. By illustrating her life and her struggle with the fatal disease I hope to not only bring encouragement to those caught in the same dilemma, but also to capture her history which will benefit my children and their children who may still have the opportunity to know her.
In Gloria Osuna Pérez, Abuelita, it was my intention to paint a portrait of my mother along with some written history about her so that my daughter would have some knowledge of her grandmother. I made the painting especially for my daughter because passing down family history and raising cultural awareness is an important part of raising children.
This painting was done in a style very similar to that of my mother's. Before she passed away she taught me how to paint the way that she did. Her medium of choice was acrylic paint, and her choice of colors was unique to her style. Her skin tones were always the sienna and umber paints, and blended very gently to form the smooth curves and shapes in the face. My mother was proud of our brown cinnamon skin and it was the only color that she would ever use in her work. This same style has been applied to my portrait of her, because it was my way of complementing her. Even though her skin tone was light in real life, I believe she would have liked to be as brown as her canvases.
My Abuelita Sally (Grandmother Sally) passed away in September of 1997. Knowing her well since childhood, she was the first important person in my life to leave me feeling major grief for the first time. Not knowing how to overcome the grief from her loss, I began to focus my energy toward art. I began by recalling all of the fond memories I had of her while growing up. Abuelita Sally was quite a character. A dedicated Catholic, she devoted herself to her religion. She was also very strict but that stemmed from her love for us, her grandchildren. She would have a barbecue every week, which meant lots of food, mariachi music and family visits. These were all great memories.
But of all of the memories that I have of Abuelita, the one that has inspired me the most is that of Paloma, her pet dove. Abuelita used to have a white dove named Paloma, which flew freely in the house. Whenever we went to visit we looked forward to seeing Paloma fly across the living room ceiling screaming the cry of a dove. She would eventually escape from the house never to be seen again, but I never forgot about her and all of the excitement she caused me as a small child. In Dedicacion Dos, a Papel Picado made especially for Día de Los Muertos, a day in November which celebrates the lives of loved ones passed on, I portray my Abuelita Sally being guided to heaven by the angel, as her soul takes on the form of the dove. Paloma has become my symbol of freedom of the spirit to a better place, from which you do not return. The angel represents my Abuelita's religious nature. This piece celebrates the passing of Abuelita Sally, which at first caused me terrible pain, but in the end could be seen as a beautiful event.
I chose to do a Papel Picado, a paper with images cut into it, as the method of expression in this case because of its potential to effectively catch the viewer's eye. Most Papeles Picados come in various colors, and with extravagant images, and usually seen on El Día de Los Muertos. This form of expression allowed me to create an image with beautiful details that would compliment the life of my Abuelita Sally.