For most of my life, I was told "you are too sensitive," "don't be so emotional," "this isn't about feelings," "don't bring your feelings into the conversation." Some of these phrases, were followed by laughter, or a smirk or another body language which added another layer to the statement. Little by little, I began to feel ashamed for feeling. I began to apologize for how I felt, before I even said what it was I was feeling. "I know I'm being overly sensitive, I know you don't want to hear this, I know how you hate seeing me cry... but, I'm feeling..... " Needless to say, this baseless shame is how I started to form an identity dependent on how others viewed and judged me. I restrained my feelings, dressed them up in fake strength and they festered in anger.
Yet, when I was in a state of deep feeling, something inside me said, "this is your authentic self" and thus, the artist in me emerged during these crucial moments by taking pictures of myself. I used these self-portraits to reflect, analyze, and inquire into my being and the meaning behind the very essence of my humanity. I questioned everything when I looked into myself. My sadness, shame, anger. I started to take responsibility and, in time, signed up for group therapy, individual therapy, life coaching, nature healing retreats, meditation, and sound and crystal healing. What I have discovered, is not only that feeling is my strength, but also my saving grace. Through feeling, I am human, I am, I exist, I create.
During lockdown last year, I took a look back at some of those self-portraits and decided to transform pain into authentic strength by turning them into pastel works. They act as catalysts of self-transformation. By drawing these self-portraits, I realized how strong I was then and acknowledged my resilience. The act of re-creating the moment, reinforced my capacity to overcome, start over and make better choices. How, just as I participated in my own suffering, I can initiate self- love and happiness. The choice is mine. I hold the key.
My vulnerability is my armor. I will defend it, be it, show it and encourage others to allow themselves to be vulnerable. It is where authenticity opens us up to our higher selves. Feeling is my expression and I love expression.
Ana Martinez Orizondo is a Cuban pastel artist, writer and culture creative living in Shelter Island, NY. Her work explores themes of ecology and spirituality as well as identity and culture through landscape, nature and portraiture. She is a fascinated by mystical liminal states of in-betweenness, portals to otherness, and amorphous forms. The textural play between soft and hard pastels on smooth or ragged, Indian paper adds to the push and pull of my creative process, and its alchemical power.