In 1991 I participated in a wood-carving symposium in Toluca, in the State of Mexico with about 30 other sculptors. All artists received trunks of white cedar native to the area. I carved a hanger holding a dress on a base and called the sculpture Toluca Dress measuring approximately 2 meters.
The 30 sculptures were exhibited in different venues in the State of Mexico, and after one year they were returned to the artists. My sculpture returned without the hook. The organising committee searched for the missing piece but were unable to find it. I refinished the area and felt that it was the end of the story.
In 1992 I was invited to exhibit my wood sculptures at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport. The sculptures were shown inside large glass cases, illuminated by strong incandescent bulbs. Supposedly the exhibit would be open from October to December but I was asked to extend the exhibition until January, 1993. At the end of January they once again extended the show until the end of March. By June, I was worried they were never going to return my work, but of course I finally received the sculptures protected with bubble wrap.
It never occurred to me that the heat inside the panels could affect the wood sculptures and when I unpacked Toluca’s Dress it split in two with a thunderous clap. The sculpture was destroyed. Not knowing what to do, I re-wrapped it until one day I would find a solution to save the sculpture.
In January, 1994 an uprising by indigenous farmers in Chiapas seeking self-determination and land ownership, demanding new consideration for the indigenous people of Mexico. The armed rebellion produced convulsions which spread throughout the country. Suddenly the solution to my dillema seemed evident. I would give a new life to Toluca Dress by gluing both halves together with a very strong wood glue which dried a dark red – almost blood red – and call it Chiapas in support of the communities that were in search of a new life and identity.
They say there is no such thing as coincidence……but I have my doubts.