Migration of the Spirit, 2010-11, Oil on linen, beaded fabric, mixed media on copper, 24" x 40" (Property of the Artist)
Gerardo Castro's Migration of the Spirit synthesizes the natural coalescence of action, time, and space. Thus, this powerful image exposes political, cultural, and spiritual concerns; that consider Latino immigration; as a manifestation of Hispano-identity, as well as exemplifying post-colonial revolutionary liberation.
The primary section features a mother presenting her child to Saint Barbara (Chango); a traditional Santeria deity. The child wears an azabache (jet bead) bracelet, which in Latino culture is used to ward off el mal de ojo ("The Evil-Eye").
Castro uses Magic-Realism to rhythmically lure viewers towards the effervescent central panel where a female figure, in a white dress holding a tinted umbrella, ascends a white-linen path on a beaded fabric reminiscent of mantos covering Catholic statues of the Virgin and saints. The embroidered cardinal points, near her outstretched hand reveal an integral nostalgia and history. Since many Caribbeans migrated to Northern cities to find work.
Symbolically, in the third section, coppery metal represents the activities of the human body in concert with machines. Also, apparent are copper houses; as well as, Ramon Frade's El Pan Nuestro de Cada Día (Our Daily Bread); depicting the famous painted jibaro (peasant) that is idealized as a monument to Puerto-Rico's fertile soil. Also, apparent is the prayer card, La Mano Poderosa ("The Powerful Hand"), bearing the stigmata of Christ, along with an image of the Holy Family, symbolically reflecting Latin America's regard (or loyalty to) for "family," as a result, holding the family unit supreme above any specific individual.
In summary, Castro's Migration of the Spirit redefines the "self" as a microcosm of a new country ("the USA") and US-society that is forever marked by migration, loss, and borders that disconnect(s) immigrants from their history and traditions.
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