Edge of Faith May 2017 - Page 30

Sergio Gomez AOF: Sergio, thank you for coming on and talking with us and sharing a little bit about your life. How are you today? GOMEZ: Thank you for having me. We are still discussing The Faces of Mercy. What inspires you to paint the glory of God and the suffering of His people? I’d say I started making art when I was a kid, but it probably wasn’t until I was in high school that I really started taking it seri- ously. I was short-sighted in exactly what I wanted to do, so it was over the years. There are a few things that have been special for me. One is my faith and one is the experience of being alive, the good things and bad things that happen in life. I think those two things have influ- enced my work since early on. I came from Mexico and of course there is a big affinity with the issues that have to do with immigration. My dad, he is now in retire- ment, was a pastor where we came to the Chicago area. We came because the church, or the denomination where my family was from, invited us to come to Chicago to be pastors of an immigrant church. It was a church with immigrants from Mexico and Central America, so an all-Spanish speaking congregation and that’s pretty much why we came here. So both things; my faith, not only personally, but also from my fam- ily, has been a big influence in my work. Also, having the experience of meeting and working very closely with immigrants. Who are some of the artists that have influ- enced you? There have been many over the years. That is a common question that has been asked to art- ists and I don’t have one artist or two that have influenced me. Over the years it has been different people depending on where I am in my career and different stages in life. Right now, artists that I am really attracted to are Enrique Martinez Celaya. He is a Cuban art- ist living here in the United States. I am really attracted to his work. Like I said, over the years there have just been so many. It is really hard to just pinpoint one or two and say, “These are my influencers.” Your piece in the exhibit is There are so many kids — children underage — and many of them are young, who just die in the desert and their bodies are found later.” called, The Bleeding Border. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about that and what you were thinking as you created it. A lot of my work is not related to social justice; I do all kinds of work. Once in a while, I am touched by something enough that I do a piece related to that. That was the case with the piece that you just mentioned, The Bleeding Border. I remember, I was in my studio and I had subscribed to Time Magazine for some time. I picked up one of the issues and it was talking about a story about immigrant children who come through the border. Sometimes with adults or with parents or with a smuggler and in the process of crossing in the desert they get lost or they get separated from the group or it becomes night and Immigration officials are coming and everyone dissipates and runs in different direc- tions.There are so many kids, many of them young, who just die in the desert and their bodies are found later. They are minors, so nobody knows who they are. It really moved me because I have two kids. I have a boy and a girl. They are getting older now, in the teenage years, but back then they were still young. It really touched me in a personal way to think, “Wow, kids like mine may be crossing the desert at this point … like tonight.” It’s a painting with two children, a boy and a girl, just like my kids. They’re silhouettes, so you cannot see who they are, but they are run- ning towards the viewers. Behind them, you can see the wall that sepa- rates Mexico from the United States. It’s a night scene illuminated by the beam light from helicopters, from the border patrol. You see the helicopter in one corner of the painting and this bright light illuminating the kids. It is kind of illuminating them from the back, that is why we only see their silhouettes. All in black, there’s a surreal door that they are crossing through. The painting is quite large; the children are life-size. I like my figures to be life-size so we relate to the person on the side of the paint- ing. That is pretty much how I would describe the piece. The border is a big map; the whole piece is a big map. In the borderline, that’s where it is bleeding. I simulated blood drip- ping all across the borderline and that’s why it’s called, The Bleeding Border. Then there’s this poem kind of thing that I wrote all around the piece. It is a very moving piece. It definitely sparks emotion. Why do you feel art is an important media to share ideas? I think it’s a language. It’s a form of communication and if you have an idea, you are compelled to communi- Photo Credit: Michael Coakes 30 • The Art of Faith Magazine • www.aofmag.com The Art of Faith Magazine • www.aofmag.com • 31