Artist: Ana Holguin
Survivor Name: Audra
Medium: Acrylics, 14 x 18
Artist’s Statement: Working with Audra, I practiced paying attention to my intuition. In her presence, style, movement, and strength she stands out. She’s like letters bolded on a page and she owns and takes up that space unapologetically. In building the piece we wanted to represent a survivor bringing her child self forward into her own power, an acceptance of self and past in all its messy and painful reality, but also the flowering of fierceness. I reference my favorite painting here, “Girl With Death Mask,” 1938, by Frida Kahlo. This portrait has always spoken to me as an unsettling reminder that children know things, are complex, capable, and smart and they are not shielded from world pain simply because we deem them innocent. The child, sweet and small, understands death and does not shy away from it; she can play with it and be close with it.
The painting triangulates among this image, a portrait of Audra as Amazonian badass, and a stealthy and majestic jaguar. I hoped to capture how we are in complex relationship with our traumas. Sometimes our identity can harden into a mask we wear or that others place upon us. Sometimes that mask is something we can choose to put on and utilize to protect ourselves and survive. Sometimes our masks our pieces we integrate into our expression to remind us of our connection to wild hearts in the jungle—an outer link to an understanding of the power ever-prowling in the way we stand, and move, and speak. The power in how we survive, and heal. The power in how we continue to become.
“When I look back on what happened to me I try not to dwell on the pain. Instead I see how much I’ve grown and how strong I’ve become, and I remind myself that without those experiences I would never have evolved into the person I am today. I love who I am. My past doesn’t define me, instead it has made me stronger.” — Audra