October 21, 2012 by mamie
Description: I painted this piece over the summer as part of my AP Art summer work. At the end of last year, when we went over the upcoming assignments, we learned that part of this portrait project was to be based on Frida Kahlo’s work (expressive with symbols, etc.). Throughout the whole summer, I was brainstorming ideas for all of my projects, but when I came back from my major trip to Peru in July, I knew who I would paint.
While I was in Peru with GIrl Scouts from all over the US on a trip planned by Global Explorers, a really cool organization that partnered with Girl Scouts, we got to visit and play with children from an orphanage near Cusco, a school in Chinchero, and a village in Lares after donating toiletries to the orphanage, donating blankets to the school, and sharing our breakfast with the children in Lares. Wow! When I was looking forward to the trip, I was getting excited mainly over our excursion to Machu Picchu (which did turn out to be incredible when we went), but at the end, I realized that what made the trip so special to me were the people I met and the relationships with them that I made.
For instance, what the children gave us completely outranked any toiletries or material goods that we could give them. At the orphanage, the girls were lined up with huge smiles on their faces when we arrived, and every single one of them went around to give us all big, warm hugs. They later went on to sing us one of their special songs in Spanish and teach us some silly games as we all stood in a circle. Two sweet girls who I made friends with were Gladys and little Victoria. I will never forget when Gladys insisted on carrying my bright green backpack, huge and heavy, and when, at the end, both girls gave me beautiful drawings that I now have framed and hanging up in my room. It meant the world to me! At the school in Chinchero, all of us had a great time playing jump rope and volleyball and swinging on the swings and playing on the seesaws with the children we met, and Yolinda befriended me. What made me laugh in Lares was how two little boys I met took turns running around taking lots of pictures with my camera; they actually took some really good pictures that I still have!
Anyway, the point is this: these kids gave me exquisite memories that I will never forget. They truly showed me the heart of Peru, and that is what the child in my painting represents. In her eyes and faint smile, I see the history of her country and the strength that brings together all the generations through the years and even back to the times of the Incas. I saw this “sparkle” in the eyes of so many Peruvians I met, and with all of its meanings, the chakana (or Andean cross) over this child’s heart is the symbol that captured this entire feeling that I was able to feel for my special 10 days.