Libertad // Freedom
In June, as Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the United States, storefronts in SoHo were boarded up to protect against potential vandalism and destruction. In response to this poignant moment in history, artists took to painting the boards with messages of protest, encouragement, and reflection.
When I painted my mural at 47 Wooster St., I had just come off a week of immersing myself in films that shed light on the roots of systemic racism like "13th," a 2016 American documentary film by director Ava DuVernay; and literature that touched on some of the psychological factors at play, such as "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo and "Nobody Knows My Name" by James Baldwin. The thoughts and feelings felt palpable. They felt pressing. It was this exact same feeling which drew me to make the painting, and communicate what I have learned, what I have lived. Visual language has the power to communicate things that are often times hard to put into words, so I went down that path. It is not a finite expression, as this subject is more complex than one piece, one book, or any one thing.
The title "Libertad" (Spanish for "Freedom") is at the core, of the piece, and of the reason to protest. I reflected on the word many weeks after and came to a poem which encapsulates some of the reasons why I picked that word. I wrote the original version in Spanish, as I tend to do with matters of the heart. It is my native language after all, and the one I first used to say "mama."
The English translation reads:
Freedom,is living each day,following one’s heart..Freedom flows,It never stops..Freedom is part of nature,It’s that which comes naturally..Freedom is a deep inhale..Freedom is peace..Freedom is the present moment.Freedom has no place,and no time..Freedom stands on relaxed shoulders..Freedom has no age..Freedom has no face,no language,no nation..Freedom has no archive.Freedom has no manual..Freedomis free,of expectations,of a beginning,and an end..Freedomis not taken.Freedomcan’t be given..Freedom did not askto be born.It was brought into being,by no other than mankind..Freedomis that which comes,and everything that goes..Freedom has no name.Freedom has no address..Freedom belongs to everyone.Freedom belongs to no one..Freedom is being alive,to live in freedom..Freedom is loving,and being loved..What is freedom?.Freedom is saying yes.Freedom is saying no..Freedom is living without fear..Freedomcan’t be dictatedby reason..What is freedom?.Freedom.Freedom..Gabriela Gil, Freedom, 2020, NY, NY.