Family Totem by Salome Carrasco, PPCC student
This body of work is inspired by my love of birds and curiosity about my Amerindian ancestry. Being removed from the language and traditions of my ancestors brings me deep sadness and feelings of great loss. This portfolio is an effort to try to connect with some of that lost history. I’m interested in how various birds and other animals are represented in Native American cultures; my portraits are an exploration of this tradition. Birds are creatures I can connect with. Studying them, I can learn more about their behavior and personality, including my own. Looking at a stellar jay and a blue jay side-by-side one can compare how they behave by their looks and their call. A stellar jay might be louder, but a blue jay still dominates the feeder. A person can be loud yet shy.
In my paintings, I am expressing that symbolism with my family. This is my way of weaving my own stories. I chose my immediate family as my subjects to connect with them both visually and spiritually. As I map out the features of these familiar faces I see differences and similarities as if I’m seeing them for the first time. I worked on all eight oil paintings simultaneously. Starting with an accurate drawing I then blocked in color as fast as I could, not spending too much time on detail until all the surfaces were covered. The last and most difficult part of the painting was fixing angles and tones that I had seen completely wrong. My mother gave me a lot of pointers about brushwork, finding mistakes and working fast. This project has taught me how to be more confident and expressive with my art.