Photographer: Guillermo Melo Gonzalez
For the last few years, my work has concentrated on expressing the individual and collective voices of the women of my immigrant community. Their voices shaped my life and gave me a sense of belonging. My medium of expression has been the creation of clay purses that symbolize those women and their voices. Each of my purses is an attempt to bring one of those voices to life once again.
In 2016, when I was planning to visit my hometown of Medellin, I thought of the women who were my inspirations when I was a child. How could I pay tribute to their voices? Why not go to their burial places and say thanks for what they have given me? When Jewish people visit a cemetery, we often leave a pebble for those that we are visiting. The pebble symbolizes the permanence of memory and legacy--a way to show that the memory of an individual lives on. Instead of pebbles, I decided that when I visited the graves of the women who inspired me, I would leave each a small version of the clay purse I made to symbolize them. This was my way of telling the purse carriers that their voices live on.
I hope that this tribute will encourage others to bring alive the lessons they learned from the voices they heard on their paths.