Valerie Aranda

Our Birth

1995 Oil on canvas

Our Birth
affirms and celebrates my personal experience with the birth of my daughter and symbolizes my own emergence of my “self”. The painting celebrates my spiritual, emotional, and psychological emancipation veiled by childbirth. The act of childbirth is a rite of passage, a ceremony of continuity. Our Birth is a “self” portrayal and symbolizes my lineage with the past and future generations, with my ancestors and my identity, and recognizes a significant point in my life.

I began painting Our Birth in 1994 and completed it in 1995. With this particular painting I first worked out my ideas with preliminary charcoal and pastel drawings, using my friends, family and myself to model. I painted directly onto the canvas until finally reaching a resolution, therefore, I allowed for many compositional and conceptual changes to evolve. For example, I added a second canvas to the painting in order to magnify the scale and the power of the woman.

The frontal pose of the woman is ambiguous, exposed and unexposed; besides portraying childbirth, her body language also conveys sensuality. In Our Birth the woman’s gesture presents an embodiment of woman’s sexuality and morality, evoking a tension between the sensuous and the sacred. I address my ambiguity with religion, specifically Catholicism, and the history of the Church’s paradox with sexuality and purity. The pose of the daughter giving birth and the position of her hand on her vagina, together suggests the immaculate and the offensive and moreover, a resolved synthesis of the two. However, Our Birth reconciles life poetically by the mother’s consenting hand resting on her daughter’s shoulder, as well as by the overall calm embodied by the woman giving birth. With Our Birth, I create a holistic viewpoint which honors my personal experience through my visual symbolism.

In 1989, I learned of Frieda Kahlo’s work and the title of my painting, Our Birth, makes reference to her painting, My Birth. I have been influenced by many artists but it is the emotional paradox of her work that I respond to so strongly. My encounter with her work gave birth to my deeper inquiry with personal point of view. Her painting, My Birth, exposed me to the Goddess of fertility/Eater of Sins, Teoteotl. A particular representation of Teoteotl, the pre-Columbian deity, is sculpted in clay and delivers life in a crouched position.




En el disierto hay canciones

1998 Oil on canvas

En el disierto hay canciones
tells of the enchantment of the desert in Arizona where I am from. It is an homage to my home. The long winded cicada’s message can be heard on the periphery of town and in the evenings and nights when the city rests.

Living in San Diego takes me back home every few months to see my family in Arizona. I was headed for the edges of the dense vegetation of the desert in my air conditioned car and decided to stop for a spell. I stepped out into the heat with the archaic Saguaro and the hum of the cicadas penetrated my mind. Summer mornings are cooled by the earthy fragrance which fills the air until about 10:00 a.m. when sadly the oppressive sun evaporates its freshness. The creosote bush with its yellow flowers houses the spirit of the desert. The cicadas can be found hiding in its branches and the scent of this plant is the charm of the desert. En el disierto hay canciones is my painted longing for the desert.