“The Maestras:” in a small village outside of Patscuaro, the women are revered members of the community. Each week they play a very important role in the culture that has lasted centuries. They are the caretakers of the Virgin Mary. They tend each of her chapels in the village, cleaning them multiple times a day, bringing loads of flowers in to grace the various shrines within the chapel. Each week they rotate in a new family of women to become the new caretakers of the Virgin Mary. The rotation each Friday evening becomes a feast for the entire village. So on Friday, while the current women tend to the chapel, the rest of the women in the village gather together and prepare a bountiful feast of tamales, pan, and more. That preparation is a sacred time for the women. The older ladies in the community instruct the younger ones on the traditions of making the tamales that are indigenous to their village. They are the Maestras and they are passing along the knowledge that other women years ago taught them. In an age when we tend to warehouse our elderly, in this village they are revered. They have a place of honor as the Maestras and Caretakers of the most sacred shrines in the village.
I was so moved by this story that I knew I had to paint it. In my interpretation, I placed each of the Maestras in jewel-toned colors to represent their extreme value to the whole village. I have deliberately left the faces anonymous of the younger women for their time is not fully ripened. The monarch butterflies I have added to represent the women that have gone before them and now enjoy life as honored Maestras in another realm.
Oil painting on gallery-wrapped canvas Size (W x H): 79cm x 58cm (31″ x 23″)
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