Collaboration with Luis Alberto Urrea

There is something in the air. After I called out for the first creative collaboration, I realized that I had, in fact, just completed a collaborative project.

Two summers ago while traveling in Mexico, I was reading The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea. (buying the book after I heard Luis do a reading at a fundraiser for the Ragdale Foundation).
While in Mexico City I had an "thin" experience on top of the Teotihuacan pyramid, where something magical revealed itself to me. When I returned home and contemplated the event I decided that instead of making photographs I would create an installation, influenced in part by those precious moments on the Teotihuacan pyramid and the magical realism contained within the book.

"Every second, even the worst one, is sacred."

I returned to Mexico again in 2011 on the annual Frontera Grill staff trip. This time I was drawn to the altars that are found in the markets, homes and virtually everywhere, where the sacred and the everyday merge.

I have always been fascinated by retablos, devotional paintings most often created on tin. I decided to create my own version of "offerings" that referenced the retablo. My attempts to write the text fell way short of what I felt in my heart. Then, one day a thought entered my mind... wouldn't it be amazing to collaborate with Luis Alberto Urrea?! It was like a lightening bolt hit me.

"Cooking is prayer. Eating is prayer. You never stop praying."

Well, the rest is history. We met. I shared my vision for the work and sent Luis the images. He sent back text he thought might work with the photographs. I was able to match the text with the pieces. In my wildest dreams I would have never expected it to work out as well as it did.

"Everybody knows that being dead can put you in a terrible mood."

"Plants are a big responsibility--how many have you spoken with?"

"Everything speaks, Child. Everything is singing."

"Love is the color when hopelessness catches fire."

"God has a worker's hands. Angels carry hammers, not harps."

"Life is so tart it stings the mouth--add sugar."

"Water is like the soul, free of sins--every glass is the universe."

"It never hurts to cook The Maker a snack."

"The work of the healer begins with the nose--they smell life."

I hung the work this past weekend in the entryway of Frontera Grill in Chicago. They are made of copper (thanks to my generous roofer who cut the pieces), paint, gold leaf, resin, milagros and xerox transfers. The pieces are much more vibrant in person. There is a "real time" luminosity that changes depending on the light falling on the work.

"Tortilla--made of sacred corn, light and rain. Round as the sun itself. You eat a miracle."

If you are in Chicago or passing thru, consider stopping by to see the work in person AND have a delicious meal!

Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/Xoco
445 North Clark Street Chicago
Lunch hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday
Saturday Brunch: 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Dinner hours: 5:20 to 10 p.m. Tuesday; 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
(312) 661-1434