Gabriela Diaz is a student at Rosary High School, Aurora, Ill., a sponsored institution of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. Her artwork and her reflection on it were shared with the Springfield Dominican Antiracism Team (SDART) at the January 2020 meeting in Springfield. This essay and her artwork are shared with her permission.
This piece shows you a piece of my heart that is very important to me. As an artist, I discovered how important it was for me to share my story. Growing up, I was raised by a single mother along with my grandparents, however, it was looked down upon in the early 2000s to speak Spanish or be Mexican. It was all new to the city I grew up in.
In grade school, I was the only Mexican except for my uncle and grandfather who worked there as well. I took pride in who I was, however, some people would tell me I am not Mexican enough due to not being fluent in Spanish. The segregation and discrimination I faced through bullying only allowed me to take pride in who I was.
Although I am an American (United States citizen), my story begins in Mexico with my grandfather sacrificing himself to create a better life for himself and his family.
This piece displays how my bloodline comes from Mexico. Each symbol represents a piece of the Mexican culture that has impacted my life and made me into the woman I am today.
As the heart receives its blood through the body, this heart is receiving blood through its past. The blood stream ends in places where my family comes from, such as Jalisco, Guanajuato, Monterrey, and Veracruz. The candy skull represents Day of the Dead, which is a prominent holiday created by the Spaniards to allow the Catholic Aztecs to remember the dead. I created the candy skull black and white to show the past lives of my family.
The farmer represents my grandfathers on both sides who came from Mexico and my great grandfathers who are in Mexico. They are strong men who have taught me important values. The rose symbolizes La Virgen de Guadalupe, who is the protector of Mexico. The tamales represent my grandmothers who instilled the practice of traditions, especially during Christmas. The pyramid represents my ancestors and all the native tribes that once lived in Mexico. Lastly, the words on the left are the lyrics of the Mexican National Anthem, which were created for Mexican Independence Day, September 16.
I am proud to be an American who can carry her culture with her wherever she goes. As Miguel says in Coco, “Our love for each other will move on forever in every bit of my proud corazón.”