Claudia Ruiz-Gustafson | Samsara

In this body of work, I piece together a visual diary of my past and present using old family photos, objects of sentimental value–my mother’s embroidery, an old mirror frame from my childhood home, a doll who I named Francesca, the picture of my grandmother’s house where she raised her children, among others. I also incorporate pieces from my journals destroyed in a rage, which planted the seed to start a visual series to portray my memories.

In Samsara, I revisit family history, pivotal experiences, among them the end of an idyllic childhood followed by strong patriarchal pressures on young women, feelings of alienation from society and religion and living in fear during the terrorist attacks in the city of Lima, Peru by the group Sendero Luminoso. In my diary entries of more recent times, I add symbolic objects and photographs of women at different ages to represent my ongoing journey.

The themes for this work are very personal and come from real places and experiences from my time living in Lima and then moving to Massachusetts where I brought nothing but a suitcase full of clothing. The result is a visual journal, portraying pain, fear, loneliness, secrets and resilience.
En el jardín (In the Garden)La niña buena (The Good Girl)Arroz con leche (Rice with Milk)Juegos de imitación (Pretend Games)Prisión (Prison)Para bien o para mal (For Better or for Worse)Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path)En carne viva (It Hurts So Bad)La búsqueda (The Search)La zorra (Bitch)Arrepentimientos (Regrets)El peso del tiempo (The Weight of Time)El castillo (The Castle)Mis gaviotas (My Seagulls)Todo acaba (Everything Ends)Dos mundos (Two Worlds)El sueño (The Dream)Hacia la luz (Into the Light)