• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1877.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

‘I Am Myself, You See’

https://i2.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Yolanda-L... 300w, https://i2.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Yolanda-L... 768w, https://i2.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Yolanda-L... 803w" sizes="(max-width: 525px) 100vw, 525px" data-recalc-dims="1" />The Guadalupe Series by Yolanda López, via almalopez.com
Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe is a three-part series, a post-modern triptych by Yolanda López in which she casts herself, her mother, and her grand-mother as the iconic Mary. I return to the work repeatedly, each time tumbling through its surface and back like a latter-day Alice searching for the sides of a round mushroom, remembering the Caterpillar’s question and Alice’s response.
“‘Who are you?’” he asks.
“‘I can’t explain myself,’” she tells him, “‘because I’m not myself, you see.’”
López offers us the question of identity in a manner as insistent and paradoxical as the Caterpillar. Each panel of her work is an image of the Virgin. Each panel is also an image of a working-class woman who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders; whose work and sacrifice gives birth to the possibility of redemption.
There, in the space between the iconic (the Virgin Mother of Christ) and the everyday (Mary, the girl who found herself pregnant and alone), López reveals to us the problem of every story-teller who finds herself situated on a cultural margin:
What is the relationship between aesthetic form and identity?
What is the relationship between history and self?
That, after all, is what artists do, whatever their chosen medium:
They turn the world on its head and ask, demand that we look again and consider our tacit complicity in the suffering of others. They tilt at windmills. They insist the right-side up of this world is all too often neither up nor right; that invisible people and their incoherent lives really do matter.
López shatters the icon in order to reveal the living form underneath: the untold stories and unquestioned we have been complicit in forgetting. Then she picks up the pieces and recasts the sacred in achingly personal terms, offering us an image specific to Chicana and Latina identity. This Virgin belongs to López–not the Church, not the members of the upper-crust preening in the front pew. She is not an image of feminine purity and passivity, a primer to all the “darker” people of this earth about the value of self-restraint, of silence and humility. This is the portrait of a woman who has borne circumstances she could not change. She has clay feet. She has made life-altering mistakes and suffered devastating losses.
López’s image of the seamstress as Virgin Mother is especially resonant for me. My mother was a seamstress from the age of 15 to her reluctant retirement at age 80. Born in 1930 in Remedios, Cuba, my mother grew up in (one phase of) the political and social convulsions set in motion by US colonialism. For the first 29 years of her life, my mother witnessed more insurrection, torture, killing, and economic and social instability than the average citizen of the US does in a lifetime. But that’s history–which is to say, in the idiom of American English, who cares?
How many US citizens, well-educated and well-fed, know this story of a migration northward triggered by US intervention? Who can tell this story above the roar and pull of another story, the one about American exceptionalism?
I fall once again through the surface of “Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe.” In exile, my mother held our family together with the power of her work ethic and faith, so much so that work seems like a form of prayer to me. My father, too, had an extraordinary work ethic. I don’t remember him ever having fewer than two jobs. Crushed by the weight of his losses, of a life and a place and time he loved, he sought his escape in a bottle. My mother, though–she sat down at her sewing machine, every burst of stitches like a bead in a rosary. My parents were/are invisible. Their stories don’t exist beyond the seat of my own heart.
History, once distilled into stone, bronze, canvas becomes monumental, which is why, in Argentina, the mothers of the disappeared (a collective Piéta) have refused monuments to their lost sons and daughters. Story concretized becomes mirror-like–a warming fantasy of order about a shining city on the hill. López points to a fragile tale told never or infrequently about economic policies meant to disenfranchise people and then criminalize their movement northward, evicting their children, born here, from an ancient ground once theirs. The story rises, chafes against pristine, white marble surfaces; it rises again and again, promising a shift in consciousness and a deepening sense of moral agency.
And I find hope in that gift López offers us, as writers–whatever our ethnic and racial identify, whatever our creed or distance between ourselves and the story of our migration to the US. She demands that we find the sides of a deceptively smooth, round narrative surface because we have an obligation to connect our stories to a flesh and blood history, both social and political.
“Who am I?” López asks. “I am myself, you see.”
What visual images inspire your writing? How does your writing challenge standard stories about the world around us?

About Elizabeth HuergoElizabeth Huergo was born in Havana and immigrated to the United States at an early age as a political refugee. A published poet and story writer, she lives in Virginia. The Death of Fidel Perez is her first novel. You can learn more about Elizabeth on her website, and by following her on Twitter.Web | Twitter | More Posts

"I once sent a dozen of my friends a telegram saying "flee at once - all is discovered." They all left town immediately."
Mark Twain

Random picks

  • When we write, it's good to keep in mind that prose is best when it uses only words necessary to carry a thought, and so it is with writings that include the ubiquitous word "up." Sometimes we need it, sometimes we don't.
  • Recent past has been increasingly adventuress and outrageously new. Ideas that rocked our world, theories that put us on the map of world were characteristically untrue to any set of existing rules. Online universe does not hold anything as critical and a matter of life death situation. The reason behind is to make other participants explore courageously and bring their own expertise to provide a wholesome experience.
  • Since our weekend debates about ethics often revolve around the word "empathy", it occurred to me that we should find out exactly what the word means. Let's hit up Wikipedia and see what we find: Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. The English word was coined in 1909 by E.B. Titchener as an attempt to translate the German word "Einfuhlungsvermogen", a new...
  • In the 39th in a series of posts on 2011 short story collections entered for The Story Prize, intern Phedra Deonarine interviews Alethea Black, author of I Knew You'd Be Lovely  (Broadway Books). Phedra Deonarine: Is there a story collection you consider your ideal of what a collection should be? Alethea Black: An ideal collection would be one that surprises me and enlists my heart. I suppose I'm drawn to the same things in stories that attract me in people: charm, inventiveness, humor, compassion, intelligence. When I was first learning to write, collections by Lorrie Moore and...
  • Want to make money writing articles? You can. Even if you consider yourself a non-writer — maybe you hate writing — you can do it. Read this article to build your skills fast. You’ll discover two easy methods you can use to pull PayPal cash into your bank account, even if you’re a complete beginner. Since 2000, I’ve written thousands of articles. Enter my name into Google, and you’ll see many thousands of references. Not only do I publish my articles on my own sites, I syndicate them too. Additionally, I write articles for my clients, and teach writers....

Recommended sites

Most recent titles

01
10 hours ago
02
23 hours ago
03
1 day ago
04
2 days ago

Fast fact about writing

Ancient writing (at first pictographic in nature) is best known from clay and stone inscriptions, but the use of perishable materials, mainly palm leaf, papyrus, and paper, began in ancient times.