I began my new series after a recent trip to Venezuela; my grandmother, Aura Elena, was turning 80. When I arrived, she was standing in her back yard, fanning herself with an old Spanish fan that had the image of the Virgin of the Macarena painted on it. For months, I’d been searching for something new: when I saw this image, it sparked an immediate interest in exploring the classical motif of the Virgin.
After several months researching the tradition of portraits and sculptures created in homage to the Madonna – from the "Virgin of Vladimir" to Michaelangelo's "Madonna of Bruges" -- I was taken back to my Catholic roots.
I've never been particularly religious, but I have been always been fascinated with the depiction of religion in art. As a child I would sit in Sunday mass and doze off while admiring the stained glass windows and murals on the walls. There was something terrifying yet terrifically effective about those images that has stayed with me through the years. I didn't really know who the figures were or what they represented, but the combination of love, adoration, and fear that they were experiencing immediately drew me in.
As I began exploring these themes, all those references from my youth returned. I felt the need to examine this heritage in my own style and focus my attention on the beautiful relationship at the center of it all, the Holy Mother and Child.
While I was creating this series, I included other fascinating figures like Mary Magdalene, Saint Rose of Lima, and Saint Elizabeth. I imagined these icons in a different, more wondrous existence, and with these paintings my intention was not to focus on historical facts, but instead catch a glimpse into something more intimate and pure.
Basing my compositions on themes established by the Italian High Renaissance, I wanted to apply a very controlled aesthetic, while returning to the graphic and flat usage of the form showcased by the Russian icons of the Twelfth Century.
Each Madonna is wreathed in organic dreamscapes that evoke the delicate nature of Faberge eggs, the design of the Gardens of Versailles, the complex patterns that decorate the Nuba mountain people of Sudan, and the fortitude of medieval armor applied to the design of a dress, highlighting the role of the mother as the protector, the warrior, the caretaker and the public figure personae. The paintings frequently depict the mother-as-Nature, bringing forth her offspring into the world. Metallic paints and a palette of deep blues, burgundies, and emerald tones highlight the grand and mysterious beauty of this relationship.
"Madonna and Child" is a collection on twelve canvases painted with hyper-metallic acrylic paints and black India ink.