Pablo Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I believe that now, more than ever. For me, art has always been an outlet for expression and a tool for understanding the world. I grew up in Mexico with the idea that art is more than just a collection of objects that fill up a space. Art brings wholeness to a space. Although I didn’t know it then, the concept of wholeness would prove to be a touchstone for me throughout my life.
Art is home
When my family made the painful decision to leave Mexico, I was nervous and scared to let go of friends, history and everything familiar. Our new house in the US was a blank canvas, a wide open space. In the foyer, I installed a parade of giant hammered brass ants that marched up the staircase wall. I filled the dining and living areas with enormous works from my favorite artists to bring a breath of Mexico into our new house, making it feel like home.
Art is interaction
As an art major in college, I crafted a sprawling 262-foot-long white carpet with gold and peach flowers and a border of green leaves as a meditation on form and function. Later, I lugged that carpet to the church where I married my husband and I created an elaborate installation, an art experiment, with a camera focused on capturing the feet of all the guests who walked on it, or stepped over it, on our wedding day. Many knelt to touch the hand-painted flowers and run their fingers along the textured edges of the leaves. Some walked on it with obvious relish, as if the carpet made them lighter on their feet. It invited conversation, comments, reflection, interaction.
Art is intention
During my early days living in Austin, after fleeing Mexico with my family for our safety, I created a display with several dozen colorful little round boxes from India. I attached the boxes to the wall. On white scrap paper, I wrote a good intention for each box: Stay patient. Speak your truth. Be open. I invited a priest to come and bless our new house. But he didn’t know my family well, so his prayers rang empty to me. I told this story to a spiritual healer who said, “Your true intentions are worth more than any formal blessing. Perhaps you could think about what those intentions mean to you and act on that meaning.” The installation of boxes on my wall invite me to think intentionally, and other works of art serve as a reminder.
Art is a healer
Two surgeries left both my body and spirit hurting. I desperately sought comfort, positivity, and light. I have a sacred space in my home that I call my “grateful corner,” and I decided my post-surgery healing journey was the perfect time to expand it. I decked it out with cards, letters, and small works of art. I meditated without fail. When I closed my eyes, I envisioned myself at the center of a swirling galaxy of love, where my family surrounded me.
As my friend and teacher Renu reminds me, it’s all connected―body, mind, and spirit. The spaces we inhabit are more than just empty rooms to fill, they’re canvases to paint with experiences and love, to remind us why we’re here. How will you paint yours?