Updated: May 9, 2022
On February 27, 2022 I boarded my flight from Costa Rica to the US. It was a beautiful trip full of meetings with aligned souls, prayers and a special "homenaje" to Puerto Limon. I was feeling good! Just then, my phone buzzed. It was an email from Sidney, a wonderful poet I met while working at an art gallery in Seattle, Washington. "Subject: Request for Artwork".
Sidney was requesting a work in memory of her mother. We got some time on the calendar the next day and she shared her story. Sidney's mom, mother of 8, raised her and her siblings as a single mom for many years after her father was murdered. Sidney shared that during their darkest days, when the family was sad or angry, she would tell them, "Let's make happiness", to uplift their spirits. This could mean playing music, making a pot of rice and beans -- whatever the moment called for.
I was moved by this story and I gathered inputs for the artwork so I could sit with them a while before starting her commission. She voice recorded her mom's saying, uploaded a poem she wrote about her mom called "Mommy Speak", photos of the family, and the names of her siblings.
Creating commissions are incredible experiences I always feel deep gratitude for. It comes with a sense of responsibility but I balance the experience with fun. Never forget the fun 🤩 .
Sidney's work was going to be a 12 x 24 size, but I quickly realized based on the content she provided, we needed more space. We decided that a cheerful color in the yellow family on a 15 x 30 base would be a good size for the work.
Laying the background: I selected oak wood because it is a softer wood, easy to stain and good for carving. The poem text was adhered around the perimeter of the work along with family photos, and the burlap was adhered to the wood surface. Once dried, the burlap was dyed and painted, and the sound wave was carved starting from the center. As I worked my way to the left and right of the sound wave, I added variation to the line structure with paint and copper wire.
Adding more details: The names of Sidney and her siblings were included in figures. Inside of a carved line are more photos of her mom and words about her favorite phrase, "Let's Make Happiness."
I was truly "happy" just looking at this work, so I knew it was ready to ship out. To see Sidney's review, click here.
I hope you enjoyed this read! For more information about how to commission artwork, click here.
With Love & Light,
J. Alexandra Escarpeta
Sidney's Review of "Let's Make Happiness"
"Your artwork captured the essence of my Mother’s voice. I have it hanging in my office space next to a picture of Mom, next to a yellow bamboo woven sun mirror and strategically placed over my desk. I hadn’t noticed until today how perfect this is.
The sound wave is pointing to Mom, speaking.
As I have told you on more than one occasion, “I love your work, Jaime.”
But today, I see something much deeper than your artistic gift. You captured my Mother’s being; her heart and soul - the person she was (and is).
Mom was all of 5’2”, petite stature with small child-sized hands. But her voice was captivating. When she spoke, the atmosphere changed.
I remember how my mother would in prayer call GOD, “Father”. A stranger could overhear her cry, “Father”, and they would know GOD heard her praying. There was power and authority in her voice. When she spoke you believed what she said.
“Let’s make happiness!”, was a declaration she made to dispel darkness and sadness or trouble. A decree that things had to change- right now! Mom would dry her eyes, clap her hands together loudly. She would rise up if seated and when she stood she had a plan of action. She would play some music, start singing, put on a pot of rice and beans and cornbread.
It was her way of demanding the uninvited to leave. Her voice is what I hear when I set my eyes on the artwork you created for me Jaime. You listened to my poem ‘Mommy Speak’, you heard the story behind the poem and created this masterpiece.
Thank you Jaime!"