The last two months have taught me more about the energies, the vibrations of the earth. We have not only had to experience earthquakes and aftershocks in Puerto Rico, countless ones, shaking every hour, every day basically. We have also had to stop, pause, align to the movements in between. Jerks, nudges, tugs, sways, jiggles, knocks, thumps, waves that happen beneath our feet, vibrate in our seat.
So too have I had to align with these movements and vibrations in inspiration. Like an earthquake, where you have no warning of when it is coming, how, its duration, magnitude, inspiration here, inspiration rematriated, is as varied as the movements of these lands. These lands that we only see a portion of. We know the islands, identify with them, but forget that there are ditches, canyons, trenches and troughs beneath the surface of seas. These places, hidden by water or the darkness of the abyss are mostly invisible to us. But just as colonial black outs and the no-electricity-having aftermath of hurricanes, this so-called “earthquake swarm” is screaming to us to yet again pay attention to what isn’t seen. It calls our own colonialism-imposed invisibility into question by forcing us to open our eyes to what we haven’t allowed ourselves to see before.
Inspiration Rematriated comes with nudges. It vibrates, sways softly, runs like rivers of energy beneath my feet or shakes me out of my bed violently to the sound of freight trains thundering through the earth. Inspiration is a tap on the shoulder with a gentle reminder or a fierce goddess with a list of orders to which I have no choice but to oblige.
In May of 2019 when I painted “I Come from Life” to commemorate our 5 years in Puerto Rico, I included concentric circles in honor of our indigenous ancestors. The circles that mark the maps carved in the sky by stars as we rotate on our axis beneath Polaris. The circles that mark the ripples of life-giving water and the sacred center of our navels: testament to life in a human body. I included these lines as a reference to sonar, considering how sound travels beneath water. This whole painting exploring the abyss, the Puerto Rico trench that we cross when traveling back/ when returning to our ancestral lands/ when Rematriating, happened in this innocent way of answering to inspiration. I wasn’t thinking at the time of these concentric circles as the same patterns used to mark epicenters of earthquakes and seismic waves scattering across seafloors and islands. I didn’t anticipate the nearby Mona Canyon of the Puerto Rico trench going active just four months after painting this or going active again in response to a hyperactive Muertos Trough just off the coast of Borikén’s southwest. I didn’t anticipate being sandwiched in between. Nor did I anticipate the destruction in the hometowns of my ancestors, birthplace of my parents (Ponce and Peñuelas). None of us could bear the ineptitude of a puppet colonial government that allowed the post-hurricane deaths of thousands, or their indifference to the homelessness of thousands more.
Just like earthquakes themselves, none of us could anticipate any of this. I am called to oblige. Listening to the land, the water, who together comprise this ancestral womb of mine, of ours. Taking orders from them only and letting them lead me back to the ancestral wisdom we are being called to uncover and expand on today.
(Background song in video is Jimi Hendrix' Voodoo Child)