This work grew out of my interest and concern for life and death. I started by focusing on life (prior to 1961), the decaying matter (1962), and finally death (1963), completing the cycle. Eventually this came to deal with physical as well as spiritual birth, but for a long period I worked with images of bones and actual bones (1965-67) assembled with other materials into brightly painted constructions.
I felt this work to be very personal but at the same time I knew that I was establishing a connection with my Mexican heritage - not only because El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) being such a prominent holy day in our culture, but also because I was paying homage to the Mesoamerican preoccupation with death and the contemporary similar concerns of young Mexican artists.
These works integrated life and death (represented by the bones) into one unit. The bright colors represented birth, growth, flowers and butterflies (the soul after death). The inherent eroticism found in this subject lead into the mankind symbol works.
In essence I wanted to have visual representations of death “being born”, a theme I visit in later years. I have pieces titled “The Birth of Death”. With these colorful bones I wanted to show the concept of “blossoming death”. This of course is in reference to the after life, a theme that is to become a principal component of my work later on. I chose this subject because I was aware of its major importance in the lives of the peoples of the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations.
EARLY OSSEOUS 1964-65 AND BEYOND: Drawings, paintings, prints and collage works showing the development of early bone like influence into a more organic approach. The bones at times become erotic, almost phallic in nature. Again, this dichotomy of life and death being fused into one image is a significant concern for these works at this time. There is a marriage between life and death, at times teasing the mind to see one or the other, creating a built in ambiguity so that both subjects coexist in one single image.
OSSEOUS PERIOD 1965-67: Sculptural bone-like box constructions and relieves using assemblage with mixed media and real bones. These depict the “life of death” or life after death theme.
These make use of all kinds of sculptural materials such as wood, plastics, metal, ceramic, cardboard, and polyester resin. Some of the larger pieces were meant to use neon light, but instead I used this medium in another minimalist sculpture.