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UNUSUAL MOM

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Before getting married to my father in 1952, my mother was studying painting with artist Hidalgo de Caviedes iin Madrid, who believed in her talent and wanted her to pursue further studies in Florence, Italy. But my father was in a hurry to get married and it wasn't right for a married woman to study. So she stopped, and raised a family of 6 daughters. She never resumed her painting again, unfortunately, but her daughters have been strong, independent and very creative.

My sisters and I have always concentrated on her flaws more than on her strengths, because these were less visible. That’s normal with parents, but it didn’t help her to express her best of course. We all depend on others’ loving gaze: when we are seen positively we can be our best.

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During Xmas holidays I spent some days at my Mom's in Barcelona, and I asked her to take self-portraits expressing rage or despair and then concentrate on the emptiness of emotions. At the beginning she said she didn’t go crazy about taking pictures of herself because she thought she looked old and ugly. When I told her she would feel very good afterwards, she accepted. She said she felt no emotions at all. I said it was fine, it was going to be a success in any case. She went through the process and managed to express some rage, but in fact it wasn’t really necessary, because the work of art was the very first picture. She loved this photograph: she saw herself beautiful and strong and loved the slightly malicious gaze. What’s amazing is that my Mom usually looks much weaker and passive, sad and as if she escaped into her own world. Or is that how I see her? I've always tried to be the opposite of what my Mom seemed to be... Only recently I've realized that our creative force, our free spirit was in my Mom's DNA, and since she couldn't express it in her lifetime, she has somehow inspired us to be and do what she hadn't been able to.

The self-portrait is definitely like peeling the layers of an onion so that we can express our essence. It is the portrait of our higher self. I think this self-portraits expresses inner strength, intelligence and irony. She looks like the woman she wanted to be... I want to keep this image in my mind whenever I think about her, and try to stimulate this Mom in my relationship with her, though accepting the weaker one as well.