I created this piece to commemorate the life of my grandmother Lucia Cardenas, to honor her struggles as a single mother, a woman of color, and an immigrant. My grandmother had three children with a wealthy light-skinned man in Lima, Peru. As the daughter of a black woman, my grandmother was marginalized by my grandfather's family and deprived of the right to raise her own children in her own home. My grandfather's family took her three children to live in an affluent setting because they believed the boys would be better off. My grandmother was poor, unmarried, and husband-less. When she and I spoke of her history, she would share with me her anecdotes of how she would go daily to wash her son's clothes, sow the holes in their socks, and be a mother to them even when she could not live with them. In honoring my grandmother I also honor the thousands of woman of who have given everything for their children. Sadly, my grandmother lost her son to alcoholism when he was a full grown adult. I depicted her screaming to the night sky from the pain of losing her son. The image on the left is a portrait of my abuelita in her later years.
In January of 2004, she was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. I took some time off from work to help take care of her, and the process of seeing her leave was intense for my family and even more intense for her. I watched as she weakened and I realized that thousands of people all over the world die to the disease that they know very little about: Cancer... a reflection of man's destruction of the planet, the contamination of our drinking water, the lack of access to healthy food, the pollution of our air, the violation of nature for profit. My grandmother never understood why she could not get better. She did not understand why she was dying of unnatural causes because in her childhood, cancer was not an epidemic.
I dedicate this piece to the mothers of the world who fight for the well-being of their children, even when all odds are against them. I dedicate this piece to the victims of cancer and to the families that care for them until the end. I will never forget the final seconds of looking into my grandmother eyes and thanking her for her lessons, for her love, and for her tenacity.
. . . . . see next piece