“Luminarias” is a reflection on the impact of human interaction, the resilience of the human spirit, and the impact that light (both metaphoric and actual) has upon a person.

The series was born from the therapeutic interaction with a patient I briefly treated while working in a community mental health center in Chicago:

She was an undocumented Mexican woman who had survived several brutal beatings by her husband which put her near death a number of occasions. At the age of 25 this woman; impoverished, illiterate, and already the mother of five children appeared warn out from the turmoil in her life. She was in total despair.

Our weekly encounters focused on verbal communication; but she barely talked and did not want to draw. She was filled with tremendous sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness. At the end of each hour I felt depleted of energy and lacking words as I thought that nothing I could say or do could bring a spark of hope to this woman. She didn’t want to draw, but I did. I turned, for relief, to my sketchbook.

Suddenly one day she greeted me with a smile and appeared to be in much better spirits than usual. When I inquired about this new energy she responded by repeating something I apparently said, but had no recollection of saying.

I had said “Then I saw the light…”.  These words made a significant and lasting impact on her. These first steps lead to major positive changes for the patient. She left the abusive relationship with hope for a good future.

I was full of delight and a sense of rejuvenation in myself. It was from that session that this series was born.