I Never Felt Like a Spanish Kid New York Raised Me, 2015
Oil on canvas panel, re-framed, 30.5 x 22cm (12 x 9 inches)
Shirt's first piece in a group setting, the work was first shown in an exhibition in the New York Times building for Latin Heritage Month. On opening night the work had a piece of paper with the accompanying text:
Shirt did not paint this. The work shown was painted by Shirt's great aunt, Ondina, and completed between the years 1990-1992. The work has been reframed and retitled by Shirt.
In the spring of 1950, Shirt's grandmother, Mercedes, arrived in New York from the Dominican Republic. The next year her older sister Ondina would follow. The women were eager to succeed and build the life they dreamt about since young girls. Mercedes, having just graduated with a law degree in her home country, joined the United Nations and began traveling. She later became a social worker and worked in Queens, New York. Her sister, Ondina, after graduating medical school and interning at a hospital in Brooklyn, became a pediatrician and opened her own practice. In the early 1970's, Ondina moved her family from modest Flushing, Queens, to a home with a pool in Stonybrook, Long Island. It was in this home at this stage in her life, that the restless woman took up painting fine art, becoming quite enamored and completing many works.
When Ondina passed in late 2013, at her funeral service, various family members and friends were persuaded to take many of the works home, as a memory of Ondina. There were colorful paintings of all sizes surrounding her casket.
Shirt was not able to attend the funeral. This was the only piece saved for him by a cousin.
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