Write Around PAM: María Izquierdo

Still life of watermelon on a table
María Izquierdo (Mexico, 1902–1955), Living Still Life, 1946. Oil on canvas; 23.2 × 27.9 in (125 × 100 cm). The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and the Vergel Foundation.

Change is truly the only constant in our lives. We are tied to endless cycles: the sun rises and sets, seasons are reflected in the weather, we appease our appetites only to have hunger return, the seeds we plant mature and wither. Even the pandemic, which has dominated our lives for the last two years, has taken us on a ride of swells and descents, asking us to change our routines and adopt new habits.

Often change or transformation is a process much faster or slower than we would choose. When we look at María Izquierdo’s painting Living Still Life, these words come to mind: community, readiness, vulnerability, barriers. Izquierdo is one of several powerful women artists whose work is featured alongside Frida Kahlo’s in the Mexican Modernism exhibition, on view through June 5. 

Take a few moments to look at this work yourself—on the screen or in person. Which words come to the surface for you? What feelings or ideas press forward and what do you sense below the surface? Hold those thoughts as you shift to the page and consider the prompts below. As always, you can use one, both, or neither. Just set a timer for 5–10 minutes and see what comes through.

We gather together…. / It is different now….

As both PAM and Write Around Portland focus on transitioning back to in-person engagement after two years of program disruption, we find ourselves in a time of rich assessment: What have we learned and where do we go from here? This will be our last post for now in the series as we pause, reflect, and regroup. Write Around PAM will exist as a resource on the Museum’s blog, inviting you to continue exploring the connection between stunning visual images and the process of writing. Please share it with friends, family, and educators who may be interested in these unique writing prompts. Look for occasional Write Around PAM posts in the future, particularly around the Portland Book Festival in November. 

We are grateful for the ongoing collaboration between our organizations and for being in community with you, dear writers. We look forward to seeing you in the galleries, pencil and notebook in hand, and hope you’ll continue to allow visual art to inspire you to write wherever you are. Please share your work with us!

#RespectWritingCommunity #WriteAroundPAM

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