During the course of 2008 and early 2009, my mother wrote a Cuento. The best translation of a Cuento that I can provide is something along the lines of a Fable. During a few months I had spent reuniting with my mother after some time apart, my mother shared the story of a Sapo called, El Coco. This picture depicts the journey that the Sapo makes through the unfamiliar desert. During this particular part of the story Coco has a dream, and during this dream he is told by his ancestors to keep going. I feel the same way, and as recently as Sunday was told, keep going…you’re guides will never fail you. By guides, I mean an all inclusive inter-faith perspective of that feeling that we share that there is something bigger. For me it is the journey that is drawing me to what I truly love, while balancing daily life to not neglect responsibility. I always haven’t done so…but the nature of my life as I write it, is from this moment forward.
I woke up from a deep sleep with the same feeling of, “Keep going.” I wasn’t sure where and I have spent the whole day in my friends apartment on my computer, writing, organizing, and sorting through thoughts necessary to put to action. I took a break to walk the streets of New York and everything felt different. I was bumped into and was feeling lost in the shuffle of pedestrian traffic; what I needed to do was not outside, it was within me, and I won’t move from this chair or go to bed till I figure out TODAY, in this very moment how can I use my art to create change, and how can I transition from my current job to making art and human rights my fulltime responsibility.
Coco, El Sapo is a brilliant story that has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I do not say so simply because it is from my Mother. I have spent my fair share of both denying her and resisting her, but in this moment of appreciation I can truly call her work all inspiring not only to my development but to my art work. Although the story was written in Spanish, at a reading level that takes a lot longer for me to comprehend, the vibration of the story spoke to a universal truth that manifested in the best renditions of storytelling with color pencil that I have created in my entire life.
I have been pleading to my environment to show me where I need to be and allow me to pursue my endeavors of combining arts with human rights. El Sapo was an incredible beginning as the story describes exile and displacement. We can all attribute to these themes in our own way, but the heart of this story and illustrations began between a mother and daughter who were displaced not only from each other but exiled within their own cultures. While we didn’t speak the same language, it was the matriarchs of my family that taught me the rhythm of the universe. In this picture, the face of my grandmother emerged in the purple Sapo. In her death, she taught me how to let me spirit grow and in the wake of her passing, I assumed responsibility for a history of a lack of voice among women that I no longer ascribe to. This is definitely a work in progress as I am focusing on awakening to the greatness of my life.
On my way to my friend’s apartment, the handle on my suitcase broke, and a woman behind me noted, “Excuse me miss, you’re chain broke…” and I thought to myself, yes…chains are breaking and transforming into links. The story that my mother and I share with very different narrative and the function of El Sapo to restore individuals to a sense of themselves though art and literature that has the capacity to break a significant chain of exile and displacement that continues to cause pain in my family and lives of others. My mother has shown the story to immigrants who have crossed the desert…the story and illustrations have moved them to tears. This is not just our story, but this story belongs to everyone.
I look forward to the day it is on shelves…