Mourning & Scars
How I got over is the title of my installation at the SOMArts Cultural Center. The Group show entitled Mourning and Scars: 20 Years After the War, a group exhibition
The exhibition featured 12 artists and works of art in a variety of media, including paintings, video, textile sculpture and large-scale multimedia installations, explore the individual experiences of reconstruction and healing in the context of El Salvador’s postwar period.
Twelve Salvadoran artists artists now living in California and New York draw upon their various experiences and family histories to create poignant works that grapple with the trauma of persecution and exile, and reveal complex personal and bi-national identities.
Raised in San Francisco's Mission District, my Salvadoran-ness was something to be proud of. The large number of other recently arrived Salvadorans in San Francisco gave me a community to identify with.
The necessary migration my three older brothers, my mother may and I made to San Francisco may have saved our lives. Be that as it may, it divided our family. My brothers would never see my father again. My mother never saw my grandmother again. For twenty two years I lived not knowing why we migrated or why we were in this country. A fortunate turn of events lead me to CCAC, where I met professor and artist Claudia Bernardi–– who inspired my creative plunge into El Salvador.
In the collection of recent work “How I got over/ Como Sali adelante” I am utilizing Painting, Mural-art, video to portray a lyrical, often humorous, sometimes tragic rendition of my Salvadoran-American experience. The title “How I got over” is taken from the popular African American hymn made popular by Mahalia Jackson. The African- American tradition of song as a response to great difficulty inspires me . As a spiritual person, raised in a household of faith, I identify with this.
It is in his spirit that I created this body of work. Longing, music, exile, aesthetics, graffiti, the SF 49ers, abstraction, humor, faith hope, love and prose are the fabric of my experience as a bicultural “Salvy” ––these are also the stepping stones that paved the path through which I got over. It's about gratitude. By “got over” I am not referring to physical migration. By “got over” I am referring to an inner citizenship–– a knowledge of my spiritual standing–– and understanding what it means to be comfortable in my skin.
That skin happens to be Salvadoran American, and I love it.
“I'm gonna walk the streets of gold
In that homeland of the soul...”
“How I got over”
- Mahalia Jackson