acrylic on stretched canvas (unframed)
20 x 16 inches
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this is the first intentional self-portrait i ever painted (read about my unintentional self-portrait on the ::self-reflection:: exhibition page). it was november 2020. after months of not having a place of my own to live in during some of the worst months of the covid-19 pandemic, i was finally was able to sublet an apartment in the prospect lefferts gardens area of brooklyn, ny. i was struggling to understand so much — but mostly to understand myself. the combination of these feelings and living in a house full of artists inspired me to get back to art. i pulled out an old set of acrylic paints i had never used and decided to try and intentional self portrait.
the result was «el respiro» one of my favorite pieces in this exhibition. i felt like i could breathe again, after holding my breath for a few years (a lot was going on for me prior to the pandemic). i was also very grateful for my life — and the ability to breathe — with the assassination of george floyd and rise of anti-blackness fresh in my mind and heart. the sublet i lived in had these great bright yellow walls, and that color inspired both the background of this piece and my playing with light as shadow on my nose, cheeks, and eyes.
i have moved a couple of times since 2020 so the piece has a small tear in it that i repaired the best i could. it is poetic to me how the art resembles the life experiences and emotions that it was created to honor — harmed yet unbroken!