Friday, April 5, 2013

Bernice and the starfish house / Bernice y la casa de las estrellas de mar

Starry Night

I painted the above oil picture in 2007, the name was "Starry Night", it depicted Bernice, an 8 year-old starfish hunter. She seems to be floating in the night sky, which is also the sea. I think is sea and sky at the same time. The stars have a double meaning, they can be starfish, and sky stars as well.

Pinte este oleo en 2007, el nombre es "Noche estrellada", en el vemos a Bernice, una cazadora de estrellas de mar de tan solo 8 anios. Parece que flota en el cielo nocturno, el cual es al mismo tiempo el mar. Para mi es el cielo y el mar al mismo tiempo. Las estrellas tambien tienen doble significado, pueden ser los animales marinos y al mismo tiempo estrellas del cielo.

Bernice's true story is not that romantic, she is a real girl whom I found while looking at an old National Geographic magazine from the 80's. She is Swedish, but was born in Brazil, and had adapted to the harsh tropical Amazonian conditions, her fair skin has turned tan, and her already bright blond hair, and blue eyes seem much more clear and brilliant. Her family lives in the banks of the river, they make a living finding gold in the mosquito infested currents. Bernice had suffered half a dozen of malaria strikes in only a year. She was looking to me through the photo, and I noticed the strength of her face, specially her eyes, she was though as the jungle, and I really hope she survived, and became a top model who now travels around the world. She must be in her middle thirties by now.

La verdadera historia de Bernice no es tan romantica, ella es una nina real que encontre en las paginas de una revista National Greographic de los 80's. Es de ascendencia sueca, pero nacida en Brasil, se ha tenido que adaptar a las duras condiciones del Amazonas, su piel se volvio bronceada, su cabello y ojos ya de por si muy claros parecen brillar aun mas. Vive con su familia a la orilla del rio, para mantenerse buscan oro en las corrientes infestadas de mosquitos. Bernice ha sufrido media docena de ataques de malaria en solo un anio.
La nina me miraba desde la foto, en su cara habia fortaleza, era tan recia como la misma selva; realmente espero que haya sobrevivido y se haya convertido en una modelo internacional. Ahora mismo debe estar a la mitad de sus treintas.

Then, five years later I decided to make her a doll. I have been making enough clay dolls, and have a couple of secrets, and techniques about it. I was not going to copy the painting, just the essence of it. She was going to be able to hold different postures, among them stand, sit, and move her arms. The first step although, was to make her a house. This turned out to be a very strong paper-mache house that can support 33 pounds on its roof. My quality control manager did all kind of tests to ensure the structure was the best.

Cinco anios despues decidi hacer una muneca basada en ella. He estado haciendo munecas de arcilla lo suficiente para haberme hecho de dos que tres secretos y tecnicas del oficio. No iba a copiar la pintura, solo la esencia de la misma. Me imagine a Bernice capaz de ejecutar movimientos, de pararse, sentarse y mover sus brazos. Sin embargo el primer paso fue hacerle una casa. Esta resulto ser una estructura de papel-mache  muy fuerte, capaz de soportar 15 kg de peso en el techo. Mi jefe de control de calidad hizo cualquier cantidad de pruebas para asegurarse de que la casa era de lo mejor.

For Bernice doll, I used rock clay and modeled her head-neck-chest over a galvanized steel wire skeleton, same for her arms and legs. The clay is so pliable that lets me make ears anatomically perfect. Her eyes are artificial pearls.

Para hacer la muneca utilice arcilla de roca y modele con ella la cabeza-cuello-pecho, lo mismo que los brazos y piernas. La estructura entera descansa en un esqueleto de alambre de acero galvanizado. La arcilla es tan suave que puedo hacer orejas anatomicamente perfectas. Sus ojos son perlas artificiales.

I designed the doll is such a was that she is looking up, at the sky and the flying starfish. Before I assemble the final piece I have to have all of the elements of the puzzle in their right place.

Disene la muneca para que estuviera mirando hacia arriba, al cielo y a las estrellas de mar que vuelan. Antes de que termine la pieza debo tener todos los elementos en su lugar correcto.

I knew Bernice had the perfect feet when she was able to stand and hold her position even when her arms were posed in different ways. She still had to get a proper finished body, adjustments here and there, sanding, and then, painting.
Supe que los pies de Bernice eran perfectos cuando vi que se podia parar sola, aun cuando le movi sus brazos en diferentes direcciones. Aun tenia que terminar su cuerpo, hacer ajustes aqui y alla, lijarla y despues, pintarla.
Painted face / Cara pintada

I was pleased with her skin color, then went to get my seamstress uniform and start designing her clothes, they were just as the ones depicted in the painting, plus the starfish necklace, I made that one from rock clay.

Despues de haber quedado satisfecha con el color de su piel me di a la tarea de disenar su ropa, esta iba a ser tal y como la de la pintura, ademas que iba a tener su collar de estrella de mar. Hice aquel de arcilla de roca.

Bernice's blouse
I sew the clothes onto Bernice's body, by hand. That meant the clothes were done to be never removed.

Cosi la ropa a mano sobre el cuerpo de Bernice. Eso significa que su traje no podia ser quitado jamas.

Ladder stitch was used for sewing
I added a bit of lace / Le agregue liston al cuello

Back view
I wanted to use artificial hair, I already had a bunch of it, almost the color of the real Bernice, the hair was sitting in my box supplies for almost 3 years, waiting for the perfect owner to come.
Queria usar cabello artificial, ya lo tenia, casi del color exacto de la verdadera Bernice, este estuvo guardado en mi caja de materiales por casi 3 anios, esperando a la duena indicada.

She was the welcoming piece for my December 2012 solo exhibition at Expressiones Cultural Center in New London, Connecticut. The house was decorated with the accurate depiction of the 88 constelations. The piece can be hung up as a painting, or sit on a pedestal. 

Bernice stands and holds the starfish by ropes as she does in the paintings. Instead of facing us, she looks at her catch.
Bernice esta de pie y sujeta a sus estrellas de mar por medio de lazos tal y como en la pintura, pero en lugar de mirarnos a nosotros mira a su presa.

She does not need the clay-wire support, but I made it for printing the name of the piece, which is "If you love them, set them free".
No necesita la base de alambre y arcilla, pero se la hice para imprimir el nombre de la pieza, que es "Si los amas, dejalos ir".

Bernice's assemblage is a continuation of the oil painting's story. Here she is a successful starfish hunter, and she is faced with the dilemma of letting go her beloved starfish. Is she keeping them with her because she got attached to them? Is she letting them go because she really loves them? We go through life asking ourselves the same questions about material things, people, and places. Is it attachment, or love?

Esta pieza es una continuacion de la historia de la pintura de Bernice, aqui ella es una cazadora exitosa y se encuentra frente al dilema de dejar en libertad a sus estrellas de mar. Las va a mantener a su lado porque se ha apegado a ellas? Las va a dejar ir porque realmente las ama y aprecia su libertad? Nosotros vamos por la vida haciendonos las mismas preguntas sobre cosas materiales, gente y lugares, despues de todo, es apego o amor?

Here they are, the starfish, they represent what we "possess" in life, at some point we have to think if it is time to let them go, what if they want to visit their family? Will they come back? 
Aqui estan las estrellas de mar, representan lo que "poseemos" en la vida. En algun momento debemos pensar si es hora de dejarlas ir, que tal si quieren visitar a su famila? Van a regresar?

I changed the boat for this "deck" and buoys, Bernice is still a fisher girl, and these pieces remind us of her trade. I found the wood pieces ashore in the Connecticut River after super storm "Sandy" visited the region! 

Cambie el bote por este "muelle" y las boyas, Bernice es una pescadora y estas pieces nos recuerdan su oficio. Encontre los pedazos de madera en la orilla del rio Connecticut despues de que el huracan "Sandy" visitara la region!

Last pictures of Bernice before I told her bye, she went to live to the Regional Multicultural Magnet School, and it is going to be ready for auction for the benefit of the students. I will always have her with me somehow. Thanks for joining Bernice and I in our adventure. 
Ultimas fotos de Bernice antes de decirle adios, se fue a vivir a la Escuela Primaria Multicultural de New London y va a ser subastada a beneficio de los alumnos. Siempre estara conmigo de cierto modo. Gracias por acompanarnos a Bernice y a mi en nuestra aventura.

No comments:

Post a Comment