Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Guatemalan Religious Festival

"Festival of the Virgin Mary"

Quetzeltenango, Guatemala

I just finished wrestling with this piece last night. I think I'm done. In 1996, my husband Gary and I took a seven month leave to travel the US, stay at our family place in Vermont, and go to Guatemala. Gary had had repeated bouts of cancer over 14 years. In late October we had driven from Vermont to Florida and flew to Guatemala for Gary's last international travel before he passed away in 1998. We were being very adventurous, traveling independently for a month, with two weeks in the highland city of Xela (Mayan for Quetzeltenango) where we lived with a local family and went to Spanish school. One weekend we witnessed a beautiful festival where the women of the town honored the Virgin Mary by carrying her massive statue around the town square. The men provided music. There was a mix of women dressed in very modern styles and some who wore traditional clothing. Religion in Guatemala is generally Spanish Catholic with a liberal sprinkling of Mayan. Of course, I have a photo album (well before my digital camera days) with some lovely snapshots of the pageant. This picture of an elderly woman backed by the women in their special veils begged to be painted. I'm sure I could use some help with Photoshop, but this is best can do. I think I have the contrast right, but not quite the softness of the background lighting.

As I get ready for a trip to South America, I look back at those days in Central America. We were in the country while talks were going on between the government and rebels who opposed the government, so we were taking a chance. We had no problems. We got to see the fabulous way the country celebrates "the Day of the Dead" on November 1. I painted two pictures from the celebrations and sold one. I hope to do more

1 comment:

Sheila said...

This is beautiful Mary. The figures in the background have a ghostly or spirit feeling which makes your main figure more grounded and earthbound. I love the feeling you evoke from this image.