Walking into Fatima Gonzalez Mirabal’s house is like entering an undiscovered gallery, a secret the world should know about. Her art is filled with color, life, and women, nearly always women. Rolled canvases, stacked canvases, all beautiful, unique, and the subjects ready to dance off the canvas.
If you take a close look, you will see there is a hint of a mouth in almost every painting. Perhaps this is the inner desire that all women from the Dominican Republic can speak more openly, that “machismo” could become part of its history, not today’s reality. When she was small, her dream was to be an artist, but the machismo part of this colorful culture pushed her in other directions.
Like many Dominican women, she married young. Reluctantly, she put away her paint brushes and took up the tools of an accountant. Numbers made sense - because they made money. Her art became a dream on a shelf.
Marriage was not kind to Fatima. Her husband was abusive and leaving him meant she worked two jobs to take care of her four beautiful children. Still, ticking inside her heart was her love for art. Her dreams would not stay on the shelf.
When her children were older, she asked God to light her way. She told God that she had a good life, but that she needed guidance. She asked that God might light her path. At fifty-six she felt the warm glow of direction in her life, her future and what she should be doing. She went back to university and got her MFA.
Her daughter, Rocio, says she was a woman on fire, “so much energy, running up and down the stairs, staying up late, and painting, always painting. She was also frantically sketching, trying to catch time. A lump of clay became an obsession to bring out the life inside it.”
(She still has that energy, passion, and love of life.) When her brush touches the canvas, she says it is like falling in love, a grand affair. “Now I know what God intended for me. I know how God feels when he creates. Everything comes from God.”
Her spiritual connection to God empowers her. From prayer she says, comes inspiration, love, and energy. Her attention to detail leaps from her soul, creating tiny surprises in many of her paintings.
Fatima hugged me and served me thick, delicious Dominican coffee, and we laughed and shared like old friends. If you believe in old spirits and connections you would see the ease with which we exchanged stories, beliefs, and my love for her art.
She is her art. I see her in the movement on the canvas, the depth, the soul, and the subtle smiling mouth. She is an EXTRAordinary woman. A role model for many.