The Story of the Vibrant Woman

The Story of the Vibrant Woman

I’m working on a larger scale lately, not too big though. This version of the Vibrant Woman is bigger than the original. The original piece being 8×10 on paper. The original was specifically created for the Fragments series. 

Read about the Fragments Series

But if you want the entire real backstory, keep reading…

The Full Story

This piece began as a photograph, inspired from a trip to Guatemala 10+ years ago. I remember that trip very well since I was there to handle my mom’s affairs after she passed away. It was a hard trip, yet I found color, through the sad moments. I photographed a woman I was buying food from. I was amazed how fast her hands worked and at the same time she was so timid. I always think of older people and envision my grandparents. In this case I was imagining my mom’s mom, the woman that for my first four years of life was my mother. Then I would go off and not see her for over twenty years. It would also be the last time I’d see her. That nostalgia and long for my grandmother is the reason I’m constantly photographing elderly people.

Fast forward to the present, (in year 2016) years after the initial photograph was taken. I was currently working on sketches, some that would become the final pieces for the series, Fragments. All these were going to be revealed in a show following that year. Did I forget to say I was also super pregnant? Yes, I was pregnant, restless and with the party in my belly at night I couldn’t really sleep. The main perk of having my studio in my house, being able to go loose myself in it when all is quiet. It was 2am and I was wondering which piece I would work on. Earlier that week I had tried printing a photo on an experimental process. Let’s say it didn’t really work out well. That doesn’t mean anything in my world and I rarely throw pieces away. Art is art, you never know.

So that experimental piece was laying there just staring at me, like it was daring me to make it work. Or maybe it was just me sleep deprived in the wee hours of the night, seeing things. Then it happened. I just grabbed it and went to town. No real plan, just let my mind go and do. I started cutting, gluing down (archival material, don’t worry I’m not crazy) and painting. Just like that I was putting a realistic photo of a very endearing older woman, with an abstract background was born. The abstract colors to me weren’t so abstract. I was pulling the colors from the vibrant colors of the dress the woman was wearing. I muted the colors slightly so that the woman would just stand out. The focus was the woman’s downward stare and her incomplete hands. To me she looked like she was jumping out. Just like that she was created and I could get back to sleep.

How She Was Received

The Vibrant Woman was not one of my main pieces in my show, in fact it was the ending pieces, as the part that would continue the story for the next series. All this meaning that I didn’t think much about my little middle of the night piece, yet it was the first one to sell one at the show. It was also the piece that took the least amount of time to make. It was my loosest piece, made with no strings attached, no pressures and my mind just created. In the weeks after the grand opening of my show, several people asked about the Vibrant Woman. People that own my art and those who have never purchased anything from me. Both wanted to know the story behind it. I gave them the brief condensed version. This is before the stories of my work had become such a major part of the art.

She stood between two other colorful pieces

She’s not finished. I know I will know when she is finished. This time it’s not a real collage, even though there are pieces collaged on to it. The paint is not as muted, in fact it stands true to the original name, Vibrant. I used some colors, that are not my normal pallet, but that is because my life and my art are colliding. My love of color has started to push aside the dark that was always present in my work.

Vibrant Woman 2.0

Last year, the end of it actually, Zev and I were getting into a really good groove. He was allowing me to have more time in my studio. He would be good in the studio as long as he had things to play with. I had wanted to make two larger pieces of some of my original Fragments pieces. Vibrant Woman was one of those. I didn’t know how I would recreate it or it was even going to work again. When I make my sketches, or smaller pieces on a larger scale, they take their own life. They are never a duplicate.

The Story of the Vibrant Woman
My Instagram Sneak Peak

What do think about the Vibrant Woman? Let me know!

Leslie M. Guzmán is a Guatemalan artist best known for her creative explorations of world cultures. Her works capture the untold stories of people, objects and the places from which they come.

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