Beauty for Ashes

"And provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair. They will be called oaks or righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of its splendor." -Isaiah 61:3

The day before Labor Day I received a call from a neighbor that the back of our house was completely on fire and that we needed to get out. I was in Massachusetts at the time getting my daughter settled in college. I called my siblings who went to our family home and then watched our home burn on FaceTime as my sister shared her screen. I am told that we must have some powerful angels because our house should have burned to the ground. The fire burned through our den, kitchen, breakfast nook and began traveling up through the walls decimating all three of our bathrooms. There were over 50 firemen and 12 fire trucks that worked to get the fire under control. I am told that they worked into the wee hours of the morning trying to ensure that the fire was out. The walls in our home were painted white and upon arriving from the airport they were black- covered in soot. The painting of our parents, "Angels Among Us," hanging over the fireplace, was covered in soot like many of my paintings were. However, when I stepped into the house for the first time, the smoke lessened, and I could see our parents looking back at me. If it didn't burn- it was covered in smoke or soot. In our dining room a beautiful chandelier from a dear friend burned, signature paintings burned and yet family photographs on a bookshelf survived. In the living room our father's rocking chair and mother's blanket survived when things around it were severely damaged. So many of my paintings that did not burn are covered in soot or have smoke damage. The firemen told my siblings that had my daughter and I been home we would have died from the black smoke that engulfed our home.

I will be forever grateful to the firemen from Station 45 and many others who worked with such selflessness and courage as they battled the fire. When they entered our home and saw all of my artwork, they took extra care to move as much of it as possible out of the way. They entered through the roof in the front and back of the left side of our home where my art studio was located. It took weeks for me to be able to get into the space to get beyond the debris to retrieve the work. I appreciate the kindness of many of those from the HISD art army who came and helped document artwork and tried to save some of our books. Months later I am still sifting and sorting through what is left of our belongings trying to see what can be salvaged and what must be discarded. When I have had moments of despair as I am adjusting to this new reality of change, something is brought to my attention, and I am in awe of God's mercy. Recently I found our parents wedding album and many DVD's that document my time at the University Museum and many family events. While our home was declared a total loss and will have to be rebuilt- I feel blessed to find things like our mother's cookbook and the bookshelf that our grandfather made for her. With so many important paintings that were lost in the fire, I am very thankful for the paintings and works on paper that survived. The poems and illustrations to my first self-published children's book- "The Dreamer and Her Dream," " My Soulfull Circus" paintings inspired by the Universoul Circus and the Ringmaster Casual Cal and my first set of limited-edition prints.

Many have reached out to see how they can help. A dear friend of mine, Jennifer Texada put together this GoFundMe to help replace some of my art supplies.

You can also directly purchase reproductions of some of the paintings that were lost in the fire here.

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