Updated: Apr 7, 2021

If you paint with feeling, your subject is likely very personal. This is an example of a personal story about one of my paintings. There are other such stories in my blog that you are encouraged to read.

"Survival of Maria": This image honors and respects las mujeres who have struggled and persisted so that they and their families could survive. As a small child I lived in many Southwestern cities. My father was what I call “a migrant engineer” working in many aerospace centers rapidly growing in the vast Southwest. My mother was a nurse. Mexico, not too far from our home, had a large resource of inexpensive labor.

My parents were assisted by a progression of “mother’s helpers” from Mexico who seemed to always be named Maria. They rarely talked and their faces changed rapidly. I recall one always braiding my hair just the way I liked. Another nice Maria tried to teach me how to crochet at the age of six. When I was seven, a different mother’s helper stayed with us for a few weeks while my parents were gone. We mostly ate was rice…I had to learn to like rice. Now I was eight years old, my parents fell on especially on hard times…a lost job another baby. They could no longer afford to pay Maria, to help care for their (by then) six children. We moved to a smaller less expensive town, Maria coming with us. But then she suddenly disappeared. A few weeks later, I spotted her from my school bus as it drove through the small business district of Tularosa, New Mexico.

Maria’s white housekeeper’s uniform was now a revealing gold dress, tightly clinging to her rich dark body. A pair of high heels supported her portly frame. Most memorable was her blaze of yellow curls that replaced her black bun. She just stood there, alone in front of a wall. I feared for Maria, but my young mind sensed that she had no choice other than to use her charms to survive in an unsympathetic society.

My maternal grandmother, of both Mexican and Native-American decent, worked cleaning hotel rooms in addition to raising eight children into adulthood. She married at age 16 and had several earlier children who perished from disease. My paternal grandmother left Mexico with my grandfather and his son from another. She raised eight children of her own and her life was severe. Proudly though, many of the children of these two women were able to reach adulthood and benefit society.


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