the beauty of acrylic is nothing ever has to stay still– my paintings can evolve and grow alongside me. I finished the first version of this painting last year. I added some grapes in July. Surreal leaves in August. A little grey in September. Brown spheres in October. Streams of golds, greys, & metallic blues last night. this was a dream slowly realized. an initial distaste revealed then reimagined.
four colors, two days, one brush. I wanted her to both blend into the canvas as well as stand out; she is one with her surroundings such as we are all interconnected with one another, every place, every field, every tree, every sea.
I’ve finally decided to share some of my visual art on here.
“cielo morado” 36×24, acrylic & gloss on canvas
I was so happy when I made her. The colors poured from my paintbrush without second thought. The golden core of this sun reflects the tiniest bit of light at night. It’s difficult to photograph but this painting wears many faces as the light around her shifts. My brother called dibs.
I worked to create something I wanted to look at over and over again. I didn’t mind if she looked at me back, so I started with the eye. And the irregular shapes began to form on their own. I have her above my bookshelf, the earth tones beautifully match the spines of my collection so I won’t be giving her away.
I was dreaming of snakes during this time .. and one night with no blank canvas I chose a self portrait I made the year before. I painted her entirely in copper, bronze, red, & brown. I added a silver snake along the middle & lined the top and bottom of the canvas with soil I brought back from Peru last year, repurposed & glazed. She is reborn.
I could go on for pages on the ways in which Life interrupted my plans to post, but I won’t. Simply, I’ll apologize and move on. I messed up. I’ll do better.
The professor looked in our direction, put their elbows on the table and told us if we could do something else, we should.
If we were able to enter a different field, shift academic trajectories, choose another program we should. If we decide to stay… if we believe this is what we were born to do…“my condolences.”
I’m forced to be smarter here. I am in constant state of reeducation. I walk slower now, making sure I don’t “pull” when I should “push.” I adopt mannerisms, study ways my peers talk to the professor. I study outfits, diction… Durkheim.As a graduate student in this prestigious program, I am aware both by nature and training of those around me. The air here is dense with complex text and discussion. Therefore, I breathe with intention. At a pace. I am learning. I can feel it.
I’m forced to be selfish here. I let a love be momentary once again. A fatal combination of free time and emotion led me there. And here. On my bed. Writing. I’m at peace. The goodbye was necessary, yet I remind myself it takes more than one to measure a relationship’s worth. Twenty two with two jobs and a thesis on the way… I need to be selfish in love. I am in a constant state of reeducation.
I saw her hands rise, just a touch. The tone in her voice becoming more urgent, less anxious. Sure of herself and her intentions, she spoke passionately against the field she taught in. Her words attacked the elitism and inaccessibility of education, her desire for inclusive research became her. I listened. I agreed. Yet, I couldn’t forget the initials by her name. The number of publications she’s authored. The number of times she’s been cited.
I couldn’t forget where we were. A bougie high end coffee shop in downtown Boston charging $4.75 for a pack of 3 gluten free cookies. Here, we critiqued the “elite.”
In a month I will begin my Masters degree at an Ivy League institution where you can feel the air of prestige even in the restrooms. This anger, this passion, this frustrated quiver in tone… it’s inside of me too. But I wonder, where do I stand in this fight for accessibility? How angry can I be at the “other side” while I plant my foot in the door? Is my desire to fight against the system contradictory to my walking into it?
In this blogging series, I am going to document my year at Columbia. My transition from one school to the next is more than a change of scenery. It’s letting go of a Section 8 voucher for more student loan debt. It’s a disguise of elitism, a false air of comfort… a childhood dream come true. Tackling with the complication of my position, I hope to make this experience tangible and in some strange way find strength in this vulnerability of sharing my journey with you.
I’ll be posting at least every other week.
(EDIT: I can’t even say I tried to keep up with this post’s promise. I apologize & moving on)
i bounce against the concrete
they are raised
over my head
my fingers intertwine
my cheeks inflate
eyes wide open
fierce almond shapes
glaring at the world
my teeth exposed
i feel myself
fall and fly
at the very same
my poems don’t rhyme anymore
they fall and they rise
or they keep falling
or keep rising
they twist your mouth
into uncomfortable shapes
they are awkward
unkind, they make sense
only to me
but still i wrap them
and gift them to you
the one with bright eyes
squinting in wonder
asking which words
when do you pause
when can your tongue rest
you do not know
here you are
my voice holds many tongues
but mostly the taste of iron
as english cuts my mouth
crashes into my molars
in jagged syllables
when i come home
i liberate my lips with spanish lullabies
that glide along my cheeks
and in between my legs
i am a bridge between two worlds
no — i am