Revelation: New Works by Virmarie DePoyster
Tri-Mission Art Gallery
United States of America Embassy to Italy
I was fifteen and my life was about to change in every conceivable way. The next day, we were moving to America. The humidity of the tropical night clung to me as a chorus of tree frogs sang in the darkness surrounding our rural farm on the outskirts of Vega Baja. My sisters and I, barefooted in long faded dresses with slicked back hair, dirty feet, and tired eyes, sat on twin beds poring over our color-filled books. Spanish words filled the pages of my children’s Bible and the bold colors of its illustrations blasted my vision, bringing the characters to life inside my head. Raised in a strict religious household, I was only allowed to read religious materials. The familiarity of these images and text comforted me, yet I longed for the freedom to question the meaning of those Bible stories and to explore the wisdom they imparted. Those words and images molded my view of the world and ultimately influenced all that I create. Little did I know, on that muggy Puerto Rican night long ago, one chapter of my life was closing and another was about to begin. I wouldn’t see my children’s Bible again, but I would carry its influence with me, and it would resurface in my new life, in my new home, all these years later.
In these works, words manifest as layers of my past that shape my current human experience; I explore issues of spirituality, identity, and human connection within the context of the natural world, the source of my passion and inspiration. Each piece has as its base layer printed words that have been lifted from the Bible or other sources that are personally meaningful. In some of the paintings, the printed layers are clearly visible, and in others, they are obscured; in this way, I delve into the meaningful selectivity we use in deciding which layers of our personal stories we will share with others and which we will withhold. As always, color is a technique, a tool, and a language I use to emphasize an overall mood. Abstracting the subject matter, manipulating shapes, and incorporating texture that evokes an emotional response unify these paintings, however diverse. At first glance, it may be these elements that capture the viewer’s eye, but with closer observation, the words arise from the background and therein the deepest layer of each piece, both literally and symbolically, is revealed.