Painter and printmaker Ana Aguirre never imagined living in the United States. She grew up deeply connected to her large extended family in Monterrey, Mexico among beautiful, towering mountains. But in 2016 her husband landed a job in the U.S. and, together with their two children, they moved over 2000 miles north, first to Seattle and eventually to Bend.
“It is amazing to me the way we feel living here,” Ana says. “Because the hot desert that surrounds me here in Bend is very familiar in my subconscious.” Ana spends hours walking the trails of the nearby Badlands Wilderness Area, finding inspiration for her work, discovering more of her own inner landscape.
Much of Ana’s art focuses on the female body “and the power to create life. But it’s also the opportunity to bring death.” Ana lost her first child during birth, an experience she continues to reflect on in her art.
“I have two amazing boys” she says, but losing her first child, “that experience changed everything.”
“I think life and death are just in the same path all the time,” she says. “My way of understanding it might be a little bit because of my cultural background. I don’t believe in death as death. It’s just another stage of life. And that’s what I’m trying to connect with in my drawings and my prints.”
As I watch Ana carve the plates she uses to create her fantastical, colorful prints, so much of it seems random, casual and uncontrolled. It makes me eager to find out how these seemingly random marks will translate into an image. It turns out, Ana’s wondering the same thing.
“I cannot control the result. And that keeps me intrigued and motivated to finish it, and to see what the paper has to say, what the ink wants to say with my little touch of it.”
The results are colorful and otherworldly. A pair of feet rise up from a bursting seed. A bug like creature floats through the air.
“I think the impact that my life experiences had in my art is something that I cannot explain in words. That’s why I try to talk about it in my colors and my lines.”
After three years in Bend, Ana is happy. “The people that I’ve found, the artists that surround me, this cool community, they welcomed us, made us feel as part of it.”
“I like the way life is like an ocean and all the rivers of your experiences are filling that ocean. So that’s how I feel my life, in the middle of the hot desert. I brought my own ocean, and I’m moving with it. I hope that this is the place for me to stay because I love it.”