This is a painting that I’m actually still working on and might change later; but it’s giving me so much life right now that I really wanted to share it. It feels personal, almost like a journal or a scrapbook, so I’m not sure if it’s the kind of thing that will resonate with anyone besides me. But I’m still so excited about it that I don’t want to keep it inside.
I’m kind of thinking of it as my covid-19 isolation inspiration board of sorts: what I’m thinking about, praying for, what’s making me happy.
It’s in the loosely abstracted cityscape form that I’ve been trying to leave behind actually. I did a lot of these collages of sort of city skylines with lots of high rises and sky scrapers, sort of to evoke the idea of a dense city rather than actually representing any real city, and also because the visual pattern of overlapping right angles is something I really enjoy (and often paint fully abstracted too). But sometimes they feel too Coruscant to me and not grounded enough in a real place. So I’ve been trying to try other things instead! But it’s a comforting habit of mine, and I’m being generous with myself and letting myself do something comforting.
The color palette feels really soothing to me too–it’s different for me to do so much blue without lots of brown or orange but I like it.
What is most unique about this painting, for me, is that normally I kind of downplay the text in my collages. I want it to be there more for texture and as a background pattern, not for content. But this time I leaned into the content, giving each building or skyscraper at least one word, providing contrast and energy to the painting but also meaning.
I’m going to go through all the black on white visible words and explain why I picked them. Some are obvious, others not so much.
Please note: The white on black Urdu text I did not pick for meeting but rather because the black added some nice visual contrast. It’s from what I think is the classifieds section of the New York Pakistani newspaper and most of the text seemed to be the names of businesses when I checked it with Google translate.
- Top left: “Coragem” = courage in Portuguese
- Chinese characters, second from left. I used Google Translate and it seems this either means “beautiful/livable city” or the name of a specific place/city. I don’t completely trust Google translate but I just like that it has a reference to a city, any city.
- 3rd from left: “encontrada” = encountered or met, in Portuguese. I like the suggestion of discovering something new and unexpected.
- Below “encontrada” is the word “Bangladesh” in Bangla. My husband’s family is originally from Bangladesh so it’s a word that holds a lot of meaning and memories for some people I love very much.
- 4th from the right: “Sagar” is the name of a Bangladeshi take out restaurant in Queens, New York. Their food is delicious and I really hope they are still in business after this shutdown.
- Next to that is “Nuevos trenes de la” which connects to the “linea roja” further down–from an El Mundo (Boston’s local Spanish language newspaper) article about new Red Line trains. It just makes me happy as very Boston reference–new trains on the Red Line is absolutely big news!
- The biggest word, “Çay” = tea in Turkish (it’s pronounced chai). I have a dear friend who lives in Istanbul and I’ve been lucky enough to get to visit her a few times. Every visit has included lots and lots of delicious Turkish tea. I included this word both as a way to celebrate what I love about Istanbul and my friend there (and because it’s one of the few Turkish words I can actually recognize) but also because Istanbul has indirectly inspired a lot of my paintings. There is something about the way the light hits the residential neighborhoods in the very hilly Asian side of Istanbul which has been a sort of visual refrain inside my head and has influenced almost all the cityscape paintings I have made.
- Next to “çay” is “Somerville”, where I live!
- Below that is “saude” = “health” in Portuguese
- And below that is “realiza” = “realize” in Potuguese, but in the sense of “make it so, make it true, bring it to life”
- Starting at the left again we have: “ajudam” = “they help” in Portuguese. So many people are helping right now!
- Next, “Vocé” = “you” in Portuguese.
- Then, the word “kemon” in Bangla = “how”
- Above that, “Trabajo” = “work” in Spanish
- Next, “Amor” = “love” in Spanish and Portuguese
- Next, “mulheres” = “women” in Portuguese. Because we kick ass, right now and always.
- Next, “projecto” = “project” in Portuguese. Let’s get to work!
- Under that, in Bangla characters, “New York”. I love this because most of the time when I spend time in New York, it’s in a very Bangladeshi neighborhood of Queens. And, especially in these coronavirus times, I’ve been thinking about New York a lot, especially my family members who live there and work in healthcare.
- Finally, “quem” = “who”, in Portuguese.