My life has revolved around a sense of feeling like an outsider. At age 15, I left Bolivia and came to the US to face complete culture-shock and a whirlwind of challenges. As a child, however, I could never call Bolivia “home.” While my upbringing was loving and nurturing, my sense of identity never related to the others around me. Bolivia, in particular La Paz, is a socially and racially homogeneous place. The clearcut heritages that comprise the populus are: native (Inca), caucasian (Spanish) or mestizo (mixed). Those of us who don’t check one of those boxes were left in a liminal space: especially my brother and I, whose maternal heritage is Lithuanian and paternally, we’re Palestinian. What common thread is there between such radically different peoples (genetically and geographically) that would lead them to spawn such unusual diversity? The answer: Exile.
Whether voluntary (seeking a better life) or forced (escaping Nazi Europe), the bravery of the endeavor and the gravity of the situation make the topic of “Exile” a fascinating one. My latest works focus on a particular aspect of exile--the act of Wandering into the unknown. Each painting does not represent a specific character or story. They are fragmented narrative frameworks that materialize the elusive human instinctual trait of “Wandering.” They are not stories of great sea voyages, overcoming hardship, or survival, but rather surreal illustrations of the hardship that threads the aforementioned together. These works, curious about the uncharted territories of the human mind, create an open-ended visual representation of the incessant human need to Wander. With hints at overlapping realities and visceral representations of the dangers encountered while Wandering, I hope to spark conversations about just how much an individual must need or want to leave and Wander in order to face such adversity and uncertainty.