Living in Central America (in my case Honduras and Guatemala) is sometimes hard, mostly fun but never boring. Here some of my musings on life in this colourful part of the world where you can always expect the unexpected. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…
Just wanted to do
something a little different this time.
Not half as happy
as you normally paint, commented a friend.
Nothing like my
colourful portraits of cute puppies. These paintings are based on events I read
about in the press and no, that is not something to be happy about.WTF was mostly my reaction, followed by
disgust, anger and sometimes desperation. Here, judge for yourself…
Not One Less… (59cm)
Hardly a day goes
by without a woman being brutally murdered in Guatemala. In 2018 there were 228 reported
victims. It seems 209 is going to be even worse.
Survivor Series (65cm, 56cm, 34.5cm. Double portrait
On June 3rd
of 2018 the Fuego volcano erupted and covered several communities under a thick
layer of ashes and other debris. To this day there are still people buried at
what was named Zone 0. Other people (and animals) did survive. These children were some of the kids I worked with at
the shelter. The dog Milagros eerily had “Ayuda” (help) written on her side. We
never knew whether help was asked for her or her owners. Milagros (“Miracles”,
as I named her) was very sick but made it against all odds en is now living the
life in the USA.
Ghost Towns (41 and 20cm)
There are ghost
towns and there are ghost towns… The first one is deserted and completely
unliveable as is San Miguel Los Lotes after the volcano eruption (although
reconstruction of parts of the community is under way).
Another sort of
ghost town is a community you invent, such as El Paxtal, so the government will
invest in a state of the art highway to this non-existing community. That’s what
you do if you’re a congress woman and you happen to own a spa in that place.
Golden Balls (50cm)
February 2018. The Board of Veterinarians decides to raise the price of
castrations for cats and dogs to Q950.
In a country where there is a huge overpopulation of dogs and cats and
where people barley can afford to feed them, this is completely ludicrous.
Landscapes (41cm, 35cm, 21cm)
Guatemala is a
fantastic country with incredible natural resources. However, if you look
around it’s mostly trash you see. I would really like to see patriotism being
expressed though a better care of this beautiful land…
“Rapists and Murderers” (34.5cm (without frame), ink
and watercolour, )
Rosendo Noviega, a 38-year-old migrant
from Guatemala, part of a
caravan of thousands from Central America en route to the United States, holds his daughter Belinda Izabel
as he walks along the highway to Juchitan from Santiago
Niltepec, Mexico, October 30, 2018. An
estimated 2,300 children are travelling with the migrant caravan headed north
to the U.S.-Mexico border, UNICEF said, adding that they needed protection and
access to essential services like healthcare, clean water and sanitation. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Someone else said the migrants were “murderers and rapists”.
Bones of Memory (50cm)
Mass graves from the civil war are still being found and forensic
scientists relentlessly work to identify the victims. On June 24 of 2018, 172
Victims of the civil war are finally officially buried in San Juan
Hogar Seguro /Safe House (75cm)
At first glance
quite a happy, colourful painting of a bunch of butterflies in a shadowbox.
butterfly carries the name of one of the 41 girls who lost their lives sat the
Virgen de la Asunción Safe Home in San José Pinula, Guatemala.
children’s home had been under investigation for multiple reports of abuse of
the children. In March of 2017 a group of adolescents decided to escape the
home. They were hunted down as if they were dangerous criminals. While the boys
were sent back to their dorms, the girls were locked in a classroom without
water or access to a bathroom. After long hours, the girls lit up some
mattresses in order to get the attention of the two police officers guarding
the padlocked door. The fire got out of hand; the door wasn’t opened until it
was much too late. 41 girls lost their lives, another 15 were badly injured.
Cycle of Life (Gouache 27cm) / Survivor of Life (46cm)
And those two
beautiful ladies have just seen it all…
This show is on
till May 6th, 2019 at Galería Mesón Panza Verde, 5a Avenida Sur, Antigua Guatemala.
All works are for
sale except for Survivor: Superhero and Golden Balls. All materials are
acrylic, unless otherwise mentioned.
information, please contact the artist at carinsteen at yahoo.com
was less than a week after the Fuego volcano erupted and it was still chaos. People
who left or lost their homes were accommodated in schools and churches. Rucks full
of donations kept arriving in causing so much congestion in the centre of
Alotenango that it was decided to cordon off the whole town for traffic. Many
solidary souls wanted to give directly to the victims while the municipality
tried to keep control by storing the goods away and closing the shelters. Still,
there were tons of people around, doctors, nurses, psychologist, church groups
and others. Some helping, some gawking, but in general too many in too small a
then there was us. Swept along the emotional wave of wanting to do something we had worked our way into the
shelter to offer some art activities and story telling to the children. Not such
a bad idea, since so far the only distractions for the kids had been one piñata
after the other and loads and loads of candy.
first experience (we went back a total of 25 times) was surreal. While in Zone
0 fire fighters and residents were still looking for the remains of their loved
ones (and wouldn’t stop for many months to come), life in the shelter was,
little by little, taking shape. Children played hide and seek behind a pile of coffins
stacked high up in a corner. Some boys were paying football with the balls they
had just been given, dodging women hanging their laundry and making their way
to the improvised showers.
a cacophony of sounds of too many people in too small a space, the sombre
sounds of funeral marches wear still audible. However, most kids were completely
oblivious to their surrounding and happily absorbed in their art work. All
except one. A little boy with a superhero mask and cape was running around as
if the world belonged to him. He ran through corridors, jumped up and down on
benches, barely missed a pregnant woman, evaded a man carrying donations before
ducking under a table. Nobody told him off or even seemed to notice. Surrounded
by many he was all by himself in his own world, very busy saving it. Watching
him was like a movie scene in which the world slowed down while the superhero flashed
around. I asked the boy if I could take a picture which was allowed. But only
for a split second before he was off again, to save the world that needs so