Return to the Land
48" x 60", Acrylic on canvas, 2023
"Return to the Land"
In spring 2021 I had a vision while I traveled to San Francisco for an exhibition I was in called “Caravana: Mobilizing Central American Art (1984 - Present) at SOMArts. I was staying in Oakland the morning I had my vision. It was of my lifeless body being carried and placed into the ground. I was in a fetal position and I felt incredibly peaceful and at home, I felt I had returned to the land. I knew the vision was both symbolic and a homecoming. I felt closer to my homeland of Nicaragua being on the West Coast traveling from my home in Baltimore. I’ve also reconnected to my truth, that we come from the land, we are the land, and we are incredibly disconnected from it. Meaning we are disconnected from ourselves.
There is a reason psychologists call it “grounding exercises” when we spiral into an anxious wormhole and need to remain in the present. I recall one exercise where you picture yourself standing on the grass, growing roots into the land from your feet to keep you from drifting. We’ve grown up in a society that hasn’t ground but concrete, that has disconnected us from who we are.
Outside of relational trauma, the weight of the world, hopelessness and powerlessness I felt being trapped in this society under capitalism led me into a deep depression. I came up with my own grounding mantra I’d like to share with you: “I was here before, and I will be here after”. I’m of the land, a continuous transfer of energy, my evolutionary being, my home, myself, I am the earth. And so are you. This fundamental scientific internal truth is a communal truth. What is real and healthy versus what is fabricated and unhealthy for the earth, is also healthy and unhealthy for us.
I write this still on my journey to reconnect and learn the truths of who we are outside of this unnatural society under capitalism. I’ve thought about revolutions, about my existence coming from one in Nicaragua, but I never thought about the internal revolution that needed to take place. Return to the Land is both, this art piece is internal, it’s mental and it’s spiritual.
In the painting, I am in fetal position buried in a pre-Columbian urn shaped as a womb. These ancestral urns were unearthed in Managua, Nicaragua where loved ones were buried in urns shaped as a womb, returning to the land the way they came. The urns were uncovered during construction of a baseball stadium in Nicaragua's capital city where my family is from. The urns are believed to be over 1,000 years old.