Carmen Lomas Garza Papers and Artworks
BY SUSANNA SHARPE
The first time I saw Camas para Sueños (Beds for Dreams) was at the Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin, at an exhibition of works by Carmen Lomas Garza. I remember being moved to tears by the painting. Two sisters lie on a rooftop in the nighttime, talking and looking at the moon. Inside the house below them, their mother prepares a bed. Everything about the painting moved me—the nurturing mother; the idea of home as being a safe, loving place that encourages us to dream; the freedom of the girls to stargaze on the roof. As a lover of the night sky, I could imagine the exhilaration of climbing up beneath the vast darkness.
Carmen Lomas Garza was born in 1948 in Kingsville, Texas. “The Chicano Movement of the late 1960s inspired the dedication of my creativity to the depiction of special and everyday events in the lives of Mexican Americans based on my memories and experiences in South Texas,” she writes on her website. “It has been my objective since 1969 to make paintings, prints, installations for Day of the Dead, paper and metal cutouts that instill pride in our history and culture in American society” (carmenlomasgarza.com).
Camas para Sueños is among many prints and other materials in the Carmen Lomas Garza archive at the Benson Collection. The original painting is held by the Smithsonian Museum of Art, whose former director, Elizabeth Broun, referred to it as “an endlessly hopeful image.”
Susanna Sharpe is communications coordinator at LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collection, and editor of Portal magazine.
IN HONOR OF THE CENTENNIAL of the Benson Latin American Collection, staff members submitted short descriptions of some of their favorite items in the collection.