The Intersection of Art and Vulnerability in a Portrait

Saviera. Matagalpa, Nicaragua, September, 2015.
Saviera. Matagalpa, Nicaragua, September, 2015. Acrylic.

Some pieces are harder than others to create. This one was the most difficult because of the lighting. I took a picture of Saviera, the daughter of one of my high school’s secretaries, in March. She always has a smile on her face, and bounces around from room to room with a mischievous smile, as if she’s up to something. I wanted to capture that look and give it my own spin.

I’ve taken time to figure out what it means for me to give my paintings my own spin. After having spoken to Andrea, I’ve figured out a theme for my art.

There’s beauty in vulnerability.

In both my art and my writing, I’m interested in exposing that vulnerability isn’t weakness. Traveling has made me an incredibly vulnerable person, since I’m constantly being thrust into new situations. It’s this vulnerability that makes me accept the challenges that come my way, pushing me to ask “What can I learn? What do I have control over?”

Accepting vulnerability all about seeking out optimism in challenging circumstances, and showing that there’s beauty in exposing oneself. When we expose ourselves, we show the world that we don’t fear rejection.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from painting Saviera is that I shouldn’t fear rejection, either. This painting has taken me months to complete, because I wanted it to be “perfect”. This was the first piece I’d done where I completely scratched he first draft and threw it away. The lighting of the original picture was so hard for me to capture, especially since I enjoy using vivid colors in my work. Eventually, I accepted it for what it was: not a realistic replica, but a representation of how I saw her.

How is Saviera vulnerable?

The picture clearly illustrates the situation of the Nicaraguan public school system: this room has no working lights, and there are old, decrepit desks strewn about. Despite it all, Saviera still looks delighted to be alive.

She captures the Nicaraguan spirit of optimism despite everyday challenges that come with being in Latin America’s most impoverished nation. You’d never guess it from seeing the glimmer in her eye, though.

The original photo of Saviera at the Gabriela Mistral Public School in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
The original photo of Saviera at the Gabriela Mistral Public School in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
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