Retablos for my parents


After digging up the dirt on  parents  in my ‘Personal archeaology’ project ( I wanted to finish the project by making a retablos that expressed gratitude for the things they gave me that I am thankful for.

Making this retablos was a strange experience.  I manipulated old photos digitally and then printed them out.  My printer is low on ink so it printed the colours strangely  but I like the result.  I  stuck the photos  into this little cardboard retablos made from a children’s board book.  During the whole process I felt my mother’s presence around.   She was an artist too and painted in oils.  Silly as it sounds I felt her spirit presence found the digital process a complete hoot after the tedium of oil paints!

I had compiled a list of things I thank my parents for and was going to post it here.  I read these words in a book called ‘Now is the time to open your heart’ by Alice Walker earlier today and felt they express everything I want to say far more nobly than I could.

‘For hours she had sat gazing into their beloved faces; all criticism of them forgotten; all complaints exhausted.  Nothing remained but love.  Not even desire to see them again remained.’

(posted by Suzanne/Almurta)’


7 responses

  1. This journey, working with retablos is fascinating Suzanne. What a fabulously rich vein you are working with.

  2. The colors are perfect, as is the whole idea and design. What a wonderful tribute to your parents, topped off with that perfect quote. What blessings we have received from our parents.

  3. I think you are utilizing the retablo concept is the precise way it was originally intended: to connect the creator/user with the object of the retablo. You connected with your mom! Fabulous! (And I recently had the same experience with my printer. The effect can really work in the right context).

  4. What terrific work, Suzanne! The effect on the photos is perfect! Art is like that. The best effects are unintended. We learn to count on that fact to make the art original.

    The quote really shook me. Yes, it is that way with my mother now. Complaints against father are not yet exhausted, but I often feel my mother’s presence at time when I’m working and feel that she is excited or at least impressed by what I’m doing.



    1. Hi Steph, Thanks for your comments. I must say looking at your art yesterday really sparked something in me. I have had a journal in my studio for about 2 years that has refused to resolve itself even though I’ve tried countless times. Now I finally feel I have an insight into how to bring it into some kind of completion.

      You’re way ahead of me by actually having exhibitions. My art work is blocked too. I am working entirely in journals now and haven’t made anything I could exhibit in so long.

      I agree with you about feelings about mothers and fathers. It was mostly my mother that came through for me while making the retablos. My father is still alive and there is still a lot of negative energy surrounding him and my thoughts about him. So much of what I have done at the hearth has been about sorting out my negative feelings surrounding issues which concern him. Making retablos helped – I feel more distant from it all now.

      I seem to remember you writing ages ago that you had trouble with a brother who gives you a hard time about family issues. I have that too and carry a lot of anger towards that brother. I don’t think my feelings will fully resolve until issues with him are bought some kind of conclusion. That’s out my hands – time is the issue there.

      Once again, thanks for posting your art and I’m so happy for you that you are out there in the artworld again.

      Love – Suzanne

  5. Sarah Joyce Bryant | Reply

    Suzanne,this is beautiful. I am very intrigued about the digital process and how the ink running out of your printer actually added to the art. Amazing! I love the passage from Alice Walker. I hope one day I can be at that point. I know, for now, it is a long way off. However, I think I might be able to make a list of things that they gave me that I am thankful for and start there 🙂

  6. This looks awesome I love the way people tie visuals and writing here, it is very inspiring.

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