Precipitated by the passing of my abuelita Isabela Ortiza, the following pieces explore themes of death, memory, and new beginnings. In recreating her wedding portrait, I sought to memorialize my grandmother and reflect on the natural progression of life. I employed a similar method of coping to analyze and explore my family’s spiritual beliefs by creating a ceramic interpretation of the Fall of Man.
I created this rendition of my grandparents’ wedding portrait as a tribute and celebration of their lives. The title — “reunited”— references my family’s beliefs about death: that heaven exists and that my abuelito and abuelita are now together once more and embarking on a new journey.
The flaky golden beams around the circle represent their burning love and exuberant spirit, roughly resembling the sun's rays. The interconnected golden hearts — a reference to Kahlo’s “Las dos Fridas” — represent their undying love and connection, implying a continued purpose and life while hinting at their Mexican nationality. Flowers and a thin white ring surround both figures, symbolizing the circle of life, as well as the fragility of my grandmother’s physical state toward her life's end.
My family often found solace in Catholic motifs and sayings in the aftermath of my grandmother’s passing. But where does that sense of comfort come from? What parallels are there between the end of life on Earth and of that described in the Bible? Surrounded by these religious remarks, I created a double incense holder (as incense sticks have traditionally symbolized a sacred form of connection) that makes reference to the Fall and the intricacies of man, as well as the connection between endings and new beginnings. It has two main physical components: Satan in his serpent form holding a backflow cone in his mouth and Adam holding up the incense stick in the ashtray of the serpent’s coil. Although its physical composition clearly has religious overtones, it also touches on broad universal themes of human nature and discontinuation, ultimately leaving its true meaning up to the interpretation of the viewer.
—Katherrin A. Billordo ’26’s column, Corazón, is a painting/sculptural series that depicts and explains aspects of her lived Hispanic-American experience and the technical artistic decisions behind her pieces.