As far as I can remember, my devotion to painting emerged at a very young age. As told by my parents and my grandmother, whenever they would check up on me, they would find me painting or drawing by myself, in the quiet corners of my home.
My devotion to art was further nourished when my mother took me to inquire about my very first private art class. Nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of stores and traffic in Hudson County, New Jersey, sat the almost hidden art school. When I opened the glass door, I can still recollect the aroma of turpentine and paints that engulfed me. The small studio was an elongated space lined up with all the wooden tall, beautiful easels in a repetitive row. I awaited the day when I would be able to paint with acrylics. Once it occurred, I remembered the joy of having those old wooden carry cases, similar to attachés, filled with all my tubes of paint and brushes. Later on, I was taught to paint with oils. I attended for five years and graduated. It was a pivotal time that resonated throughout my life.
I was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, right across the Hudson River. My parents are two Cuban exiles from the 60s. My family fled the communist dictatorship of Cuba when Castro took over, escaping the oppression and searching for freedom. I grew up surrounded by the congestion of traffic and the smell of Cuban and Hispanic foods of Hudson County, a Tri-State region of the greater NYC area. At fourteen, a car struck me in front of my high school. According to witnesses, it threw me up in the air and I landed on my head. I suffered a traumatic brain injury, amongst the other injuries, but with time I recovered, and became known in my high school as, “the girl that got hit by a car.” When I graduated from high school, I pursued my art education at Montclair State University. I earned my degree there and graduated with a bachelor's degree in painting and drawing. I have since graduated with an MFA in Figurative Painting from the Academy of Art University. The Academy of Art University drew me in through its extensive offerings of drawing and painting classes. In addition, I wanted to attend and learn from a university that specialized in the arts. Having the possibility of learning new ways to paint and draw with more realism was something I was craving. The Academy differed considerably from my undergraduate instruction. Here, I was saturated with information and instruction that was rigorous and vastly beneficial.
As I was sprinting towards the finish line, illness struck. It forcefully made me slow down my pace towards completing my education. Little by little my body felt weaker and weaker. Additionally as I was once again, approaching the finish line in this race, my legs, my arms, and the entire muscular system in my body began failing me. I could barely eat, talk, or move my body. When all was said and done, the doctors were able to diagnose me with polymyositis and autoimmune sensory neuropathy. This was an important juncture because they were positioned to begin treatment with anti-inflammatory medication.
Throughout these painful struggles, I thought a lot about the artist Frida Kahlo. I’ve thought about her pain and my pain. When I began walking and using my hands again, it was a significant crossroad in my life. I cannot paint at my easel but I can paint at my drafting table. It necessitates some adjustments for living and my muscles are stronger than they once were. At this present time, in spite of some considerable impairments and notwithstanding some pain I experience, I am much better.
Painting for me is personal, especially now, for the reason that it permits me to escape the painful obstacles in life and imparts me with purpose. The hours become minutes while I narrate my stories with my brushes filled with paint.