Video installation on exhibit at Galeria de La Raza
Paniagua, my Grandmother’s maiden name, is an adaption of the Spanish for “bread and water”, two elements that in juxtaposition symbolize survival and endurance.
The river in the La Llorona myth is a place where a woman who suffers goes to disappear. The woman is abandoned by the one she loves and is left to care for her children alone. Like in the myth, the husbands of my Great Grandmother and Great Great-Grandmother’s on my mother’s side left them and were forced to raise their children as single mothers in Guatemala. Although La Llorona is a tale of getting lost in one’s sadness, the women in my family refused to give in to despair.
These dresses represent their independence. The white more traditional dress is in a style similar to what Adriana Paniagua, my Great Grandmother, who worked as a seamstress, would have sewn after she moved to the United States. The dress to the left is the actual wedding dress worn by my Mother, Norita Vlach; the dress is in a contemporary 1970s style with Guatemalan hand woven fabric a symbol of reclaiming the past and bringing it into the future. Sandwiched between the two dresses is a fluid projection of portraits of these Women, the Mothers and Daughters of my family.