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  • Writer's pictureKaren Lembo

Come On, Hope (2023)

The title of my latest painting comes from a poem called "Land of Enchantment" by poet, Marisa Longo. We were recently paired for an upcoming exhibit, "Shared Visions," in which local authors and artists join in creative collaborations.

The poem describes a journey through New Mexico at sunset. I first chose the poem because I thought it would be interesting to paint a landscape so different from those I've painted here on the East Coast.

But there was a stanza that spoke to me, which I considered as the heart of the poet's vision:

Ven en esperanza! Ven esperanza para me!

Enciende la esperanza! No renuciar a me!

Ense name a volar en el viento tan libre!

Enciende la esperanza! Esperanza para me!

Come on hope! Come hope for me!

Come on hope, don’t give up on me !

Teach me to soar on the wind so free!

Come on hope! Hope for me!

I decided to include some of these lines beneath the surface of the painting (you can see a bit in this detail on the right). As we cross into this new year, and as I continue on my own spiritual and creative journey, that refrain, "Come on hope!" captures my personal prayer, asking God to renew my hope and guide me courageously into uncharted territory.

While researching New Mexico and its landscapes, I discovered the sandhill cranes which migrate long distances and gather in New Mexico every winter. I love the way they fly with their long necks outstretched, implying determination, strength and resilience. I thought they captured beautifully the essence and rhythm of these stanzas.

In addition to the lines of poetry, I layered sewing pattern tissue, which I love for its directional lines, and Korean Hanji paper, acquired this fall while visiting my daughter in Korea. This Hanji paper symbolizes my own migratory journey as I travel back and forth across the globe to be with my daughter and her family.

I think the horizontal and diagonal lines of the sewing patterns, the placement of strips of tissue and Hanji paper, and the horizontal nature of the mountains and clouds further emphasize the idea of movement across a vast territory, most literally captured by the road heading off into the distance. Finally, color choices suggest that struggle and hope coexist amid the bleakness of the landscape and vibrancy of the sunset.

Whatever you are facing this new year, I hope you, too, will call out a prayer for God to renew your hope and grant you courage to keep moving forward. May we all experience many victories in the year ahead!

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