Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Lessons of Juan

A friend of mine asked me to make him a Guatemalan gourd mask. We both served in Guatemala with the Peace Corps and witnessed the beautiful indigenous people so it wasn't an odd request. Immediately I got these wonderful visuals in my mind of how it was going to look: definitely female, regal looking, and with some type of woven cloth going through her hair.

I cut the gourd and started working on the nose. I wanted to make a prominent Mayan nose, but what I ended up with was a big nose and possibly that of a male. But I continued with that female image in my mind. Besides, there is nothing wrong with a handsome woman, right?
I cut out and shaped the eyebrows which turned out thick, and yes, very masculine. Lesson #1: GO WITH THE FLOW!

Once I accepted that it was male, things seemed to go more smoothly. I started working on the irises and eyelids and then the mouth. Parts were positioned and glued down and then I placed him on the wall to get a different perspective. Everything looked all right except for his left was googley.

O.k., do I rip that eye apart (don't do it) and redo the whole thing? I've pulled things off before and ended up with broken pieces or big divots and the repair work I have to do sometimes outweigh the benefit. OR, do I leave it alone (yeah, good choice) and accept that they are natural organic forms mimicking a person that is also an organic form.

Of course my artist ego stepped in and I pulled off the iris and eyelids (no major damage), repositioned and glued them on again. I put him back on the wall to view my handiwork and it looked 99 1/4 % the same! I did exactly what my kids used to do when they were learning how to write. I'd have them erase a letter and they'd rewrite it the exact same way in the old "grooves."


By the time I reached this point, this wise gourd told me his name...Juan. I realized he was helping and guiding me the whole time. He made me think about my kids and how they will be what they choose to become regardless of my "vision" of them. He made me think about areas in my life where I've been resisting instead of accepting things and "going with the flow."

I have to say I was a little sad when I left Juan at the UPS store to be shipped to the other side of the country, but I knew he was going to a good home and that one day I would see him again. Gracias Juan.