Paintings without Paint - Milagros
The work included here was first conceived while in Residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute. I completed the first 6 pieces during the months of April and May 2006. Below is information on how I got there and how the work came about.
I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. I was working every day in my studio when the force of Hurricane Katrina came barreling down upon us. Due to a mandatory evacuation, my family and I were forced to leave town for the month of September. On September 28, we jumped the curfew and moved back home.
On August 28 New Orleans was put under a Mandatory Evacuation due to Hurricane Katrina. After rapidly ‘Hurricane proofing’ my house, I drove the get away car which included my youngest son Alex, my elderly Mother and our elder dog Sadie. Thirteen hours later we arrived in Atlanta, GA. It usually takes eight hours. I quickly realized that my Mother needed more care than I could give her on the road. I immediately booked a flight for us and brought her to Houston, where she could be looked after relatives there. I returned to Alex and Sadie in Atlanta. Sadie also needed more care, so my second son Fritz and his wife Carina who live in Atlanta graciously offered to look after her. Then Alex and I hit the road. I thought why not try to enjoy this in some way? We drove to Asheville, NC, on to New York for a Kirtan Café and Gallery visits in Chelsea. From there Alex and I drove through Boston and on to Beverly, MA. A friend of mine was having a show at the Montserrat College of Art and needed help constructing her Installations. Most of her work was stuck in New Orleans due to the storm mandatory evacuation. After helping to build the show and taking part in a panel discussion on ‘Life After Art School,’ Alex and I drove back towards home. Several days later we were able to get back to a much-devastated city. The whole road trip was actually an amazing experience!
Because of the storm I was forced out of my day-to-day existence. I was able to make many new friends and contacts. My whole world has opened up in for me in unexpected ways. I have a new perspective on what is important in life.
When I was awarded the Residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute, I was primarily an oil painter, working with multi-layered patterns and imagery on large canvasses. Going through the storm experience gave me the impetuous to get out of my normal routines…even in art. I decided that while in Santa Fe, I would try something new……..paintings without paint. Before I left New Orleans for the Residency, I went shopping for fabric… where natives of the city buy material for Mardi Gras costumes. I grew up sewing and I’d always wanted to incorporate fabric into my artwork. Our Mardi Gras Indians and Mardi Gras traditions have also been an influence on me. Once in Santa Fe, I went in search of materials to use other than paint. I ended up with nails, beads, pom-poms and sequins.
This series was inspired during the residency in part by a local trip to the Santuario de Chimayo. The Milagros I saw in the Church there excited me. I went back to my studio and decided that I would make my own ‘Milagros.’ I was thankful that my family was spared bodily harm during the storm. I also think that I needed to do something physical in order to release some of the frustration of living in the chaos New Orleans had become post Katrina. Light, reflective, and matte surfaces have always been an important part of my artwork. In this series I’ve continued to use some of the imagery from my paintings, just now with materials other than paint.