This mural presents a Latin American woman covering her nose and mouth with flowers in a delicate gesture as she gazes on to the public. It is a statement of the simple yet powerful act of covering our nose and mouth in order to protect ourselves and others from the Corona Virus.
Flowers in most cultures are something we give others as gifts, as an act of love, therefore in this image by placing them over our faces as we would a mask expresses how wearing a mask is not just something we do for ourselves individually but also as an act of love towards others by protecting them as well.
The flowers are marigolds -or cempasúchil as known in Mexican communities- and are used traditionally for celebrating the Day of the Dead in Mexico and therefore have a strong connection to the culture of the Latinx (Mexican American specifically) community here in San Diego. These flowers are used to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. And so the use of cempasúchil is part of a memorial for those who we have lost to the Coronavirus, and mostly in the Latinx communities of San Diego.
The use of the flowers speaks to its materiality as a delicate object -such as the masks we wear- and yet it’s vital use in order to survive and protect others. The fine subtle petals and the gentle way in which the woman is holding the flowers on her face as a covering speaks to our own fragility and the care we must take to protect ourselves, shrouding ourselves with self-care. In addition, it relates to breathing and smelling in an intimate way as one would do with flowers, and how we must keep that experience to ourselves covering our constant repetitive action of breathing. Flowers will be removed by the artist when the mask mandate is gone.
About the Artist
Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio is an Adjunct Faculty member at USD, where she teaches drawing and painting. Her work focuses on oil painting, drawing and installation. Ortiz-Rubio has shown her work in Mexico, the United States, and the Dominican Republic. She has participated in Artist in Residency programs such as at the Chavon School of Design in the Dominican Republic, where she also taught painting for a semester as a visiting lecturer, and also completed a three month residency at the Bread&Salt Gallery in San Diego, CA. Her work focuses on the experience of time, exploring the present, and the transitions of change. She received an MFA from the New York Academy of Art (cum laude) and a BA from the University of San Diego, in Art History and Visual Arts (summa cum laude).
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