My Greek Retablos

There was this big white space above the stairs leading to the bedroom that used to stare at me.  I couldn’t stand the glare so I decided to stare back by creating a home gallery and had three rows of picture shelves put on it. To enclose the area, I painted it orange.  When it’s finished, I’ll call my little gallery Ikastikos (εικαστικός) which in Greek means “representative” thus a word often related to the visual arts.

Obviously, the shelves need something special so I decided to make Greek retablos.  That is, drawings that express an appreciation and expressed in Greek since we’re on Paros.  Of course, I needed the help of my Greek teacher, Katerina.

Retablos are small ex-voto paintings (generally painted on tin) made as an offering of gratitude for an answered prayer. It’s all about the  Aesthetics of Appreciaton: If you’re lucky and don’t know it, it’s like not being lucky at all. So to keep luck alive, it must be recognized. And retablos are a means of offering thanks for this luck.

cardboard retablo breeze

Having many things to be grateful for, several years ago I made a series of cardboard retablos. They were so joyful to make. Because expressing gratitude is good for your health.  It makes you more optimistic, keeps you from always rocketing around only yourself, and, if you think about what you have to be thankful for when you go to bed, helps you sleep better.  In other words, gratitude detoxes and fortifies the spirit.

 So, for my Greek retablos, I made a list of 15 things in my life worth appreciating.  One of those was about a dress. More than a dress, it’s a long huipil and so very special because it was one of three El Suavecito brought me from Mexico. On the front of the huipil are two big embroidered birds.  They are quite lovely and not something you would normally see on Paros. So often people stare at me when I wear it. Obviously I am happy to have this magical dress but the real gratitude is directed towards El Sauvecito who loved me enough to give me something he knew would give me much pleasure. Everytime I wear the huipil, I think about him.

pajaros y palomas

Sergio's dress

ευχαριστω για τη μεζικανικη φορεμα γιος μου μου εδωσε στι ο γυναικες κοιταζουν

Sergio's dress

All the Greek retablo drawings are mounted on discarded cardboard.  The frames are made from junk paper rolled into rounds glued together thus ecological as well. Because in my heart there’s constant gratitude for nature that keeps us all alive.

Mal Oo

Cynthia Korzekwa  ©

Related: Frida Kahlo and Retablos

This post is dedicated to  El Suavecito with love and tenderness.