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Cultural diversity enriches our lives, our country, and our world. Among the most beautiful and colorful cultures that are woven into the American fabric are those from Latin America. Here, along the Texas border with Mexico, we enjoy an especially rich blend of customs, foods, and all things Latino.
Since moving to Pharr, Texas in 1950, I have cultivated a love affair with Mexico that has expanded to include more of Latin America. My return to painting, after a career in public garden administration, was inspired by a trip to Guatemala to study painting botanicals in watercolor. Instead, I returned to McAllen with photos of Guatemalan Maya in their beautiful textiles and I felt compelled to share their beauty through paintings. After reading about the suffering of the Maya at the hands of their own government, aided by ours, I became driven to honor them by showing the world their dignity and humanity.
My current works celebrate the indigenous people of Guatemala, and also of Mexico where I spend much of my time. The indigenous people are strong and proud, and have survived not only a conquest five centuries ago, but continue to endure poverty, discrimination, and even genocide, yet maintain their dignity and strong family ties, as well as rich cultural and artistic traditions.
The works presented in this exhibit began soon after my visit to Guatemala in July 2009. The paintings from that trip are a tribute to the Mayan people who survived a 36 year “civil” war with their government, and who are still persecuted today – yet they continue to survive with dignity and grace. The rest of the paintings are of indigenous peoples of Mexico. Many are from the area of Michoacan where I spend several months each year. Others are people I encountered on a month-long road trip in July 2010 through Oaxaca and Chiapas. Each painting is meant to demonstrate my respect for these people who have been marginalized in their own land.