My grandmother's kitchen was the only place where I felt like I most belonged to my Portuguese culture. It's where the traditional food was made and where conversations and stories were shared in the mother tongue that I could never really understand. It's also the place where I felt the most regret at having not made a concerted effort to embrace who we are. When my mother and grandparents landed in Canada from Portugal in the 60s, they looked forward to new experiences and opportunities. Now, both the passing of my grandparents and the sale of our family home have acted as a catalyst for me to look back in order to understand who I am, and to process the grief of lost opportunities.
The Azulejo tile is a staple ornamental art form in Portuguese culture with its glazed porcelain white and blue frequently depicting story and history. In my pieces, I have UV printed archival photographs and cyanotypes on ceramic tiles, mimicking the traditional form of the azulejo to invoke the tradition of my ancestors. My work ranges from the traditional, to the domestic, and lastly to the contemporary uses and patterns of ceramic tile art as an analogy of the changing time.
By way of archival photographs, collage, and symbolic references to my split Canadian and Portuguese identity, I'm investigating the intersection of my constructed identity, the acculturation of my family, and memories of my intergenerational relationships in order to reconnect with the people and culture I came from. Ultimately, I present collage and tile murals grouted on boards to rebuild my sense of belonging with my culture and family, and to come to terms with the grief I feel at having lost an opportunity to understand the history of my family and the people I'll never know.