Salvavidas: Surfistas de Mexico (after Botticelli)
Acrylic & mixed media on panel,
60"h x 48"w, Item No. 16403,
This past Fall, immigrants and asylum-seekers who struggled to make the difficult journey North to the United States in hopes of fleeing violence were met with accusations and insults by citizens and government officials alike. Mexicans, as well as Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans, were deemed violent criminals to be feared and excluded. Ironically, while the above played out daily in the international press, Mexicans saved my life in Oaxaca! I was carried off by a dangerous riptide; were it not for the surfistas who spotted me, and one in particular who swam out and saved me, I would have died. Coincidentally, mere weeks later, upon my return to California with its raging wildfires, I read about the heroic surfers who swam life-saving food, water, and medical supplies in to the coast of Malibu.
In the spirit of my most recent works that subvert and contemporize classic masterpieces, Salvavidas: Surfistas de Mexico draws its inspiration from a detail of Botticelli’s Primavera. In it, a group of Mexican surfers—both real and imagined—replace the three graces and Mercury in the iconic mythological painting. The piece is meant to be bright and celebratory: a Spring—a rebirth of sorts on both a personal level and a universal one. It pays homage to the resiliency, fearlessness, and compassion that I’ve witnessed firsthand among people from Mexico and Central America; as well as to the courage and generosity of spirit rampant in Surfer communities worldwide.