Acceptance Love and Sex by artist Manuel Palacio
My art is a quest for acceptance. Unfortunately, I guess, like all passions the Arts is driven by this need to feel love and to have a sense of belonging. To feel accepted and understood. Although representative at times it is not always about observations. Rather it’s reflective of the influences of my quest.
Right off the bat (or Wicket) for me, Race is a social construct I try to leave behind. Born September 21, 1964, I am a middle brother to my sister Juanita and brother Miguel, of my parent’s second marriage. Manuel Palacio a Catholic Hispanic from Managua. And Gaylia Davis an Anglican West Indian from Bluefield’s two of Nicaragua’s diverse cultures. With them, I share our older brother Ricardo from dad’s first marriage. Big sisters Marjorie and Gladys, from mom’s first marriage I’m a cousin and nephew to many aunts and one uncle that I know.
My mom is the youngest of a traditional West Indian family, mainly women. Although many fathers came to visit, the men were long gone.
My childhood, although happy and ambivalent, I was always an artist, developed under a demanding, neurotic, hypocritical, religious, ethical and social matriarchy. Along with motherly love. The strap’s physical and Psychological abuse was common for all, just waiting for slip-ups from conservative values and for not doing what I was supposed to do, got me into enough trouble.
The seeds for my need for love and excessive approval germinate in this culture. What I am is the result of interaction and adjustments made while navigating my world. Every fruit I bore although not recognize comes from this soil with pity, obligation, and guilt. It is the need for this love that shapes and defines me.
As a child, my dreams had no limitations my life many. I don’t remember seeing People’s as different although told otherwise. Every smile was a reflection of my smile. Nobody was a stranger or a danger.
For this, my guardians placed lots of restrictions on me. No, was a familiar word I ever got it right. I never quite settle into altruism, I reveal my selfish need for attention unconsciously.
My childhood curiosity and lust for observation have been my companion and intimate friend. But what I did do was find a way to punish myself to feel accepted to atone for my childhood disobedience.
My need for acceptance created paradoxes for fear of the rod. “Serves you right .” I will hear: I wanted to run but could not leave the porch; wanted to play but could not get dirty; wanted to talk but had to watch what I say. Some children were off limits, “don’t trust does Spanish kids”, ” and don’t trust the neighbors.”
My Guardians, the very people I wanted to impress, made me feel anxious, a compulsion that remains with me. Although gregarious I was afraid to talk. I was one of those children who love to say how they see the world. an attention seeker, some would say, and they’re right.
I was never tactful I am politically incorrect. I was afraid to say the wrong things and often did. As a child, I felt so much guilt. Something terrible will happen. “God’s watching you,” Granny would remind. Your sins will cause you to burn in hell for a merciful God, Bendito Dios y Padre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo. I was frightened of punishment Diablos, and “Duppy” Superstitions were everywhere. I. I. I can’t stop talking to save my soul…I stutter…stutter…stutter
Being from my region of the world, homogeneous does not describe my culture, and somehow rainbow is not enough. This natural blend of contrast is constant in my art. My immediate family moved to Washington, D.C. when I was ten. I didn’t realize at the time just how diverse my culture was. My rainbow culture bloomed into a hurricane of diversity. I did not know there were different ways to speak and listen to Spanish and English before arriving in D.C. In Washington, it took on an atomic leap. I did not know about the many cultures on display, but I wanted to find out. With it’s many museums in proximity to my new Adams Morgan neighborhood. In Washington, D.C. I celebrated more music, more people, more culture, and more art.
Also, in Washington, D.C., I found a receptive ear for my curiosity in the presence of my cousin Rupert, who shares a love for everything art. It seems common to me now. But there was a first time, I saw a gallery or ballets listen to Tchaikovsky, appreciated Pinot Noir with a beef patty. In those times, Rupert opened the doors to the late African -American art dealer Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr., The Evans-Tibbs House openings was like a house party with wine and cheese. and lots of art by black people. Thurlow’s advice to me. “Get a business card.” It was at these openings that I thought, “I could make a living making art”. I will never forget when Rupert and Art historian, George -McKinley Martin took me to one of those cool exhibitions and then to Rodin exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, despite the warnings, I had to touch; it is in that spirit of curiosity that my art strives.
Art is a revelation I share, diverse like many cultures, similar to all humans. Like most artists, the emotional payoff’s go far back. I can’t remember a time when I did not make a mark on paper or the walls, or the use of my hands to make sculptures from anything my fingers could mold. That payoff continues to be a source of acceptance.
My family moved to Tacoma Park Maryland in my Jr. High years. There I met my best man and long time friend and unstinting Biko; we’ve been friends ever since. We move on to High Point High School where I met my next supporter Monique. They’ve been cheering my efforts ever since.
I went to the Maryland Institute Collage of Art. There I roomed with artist Ken Abrams. We share many things in common: music, sports, dance, books, and art. I love talking to Kenny, in many ways we share the same conversation no matter who is speaking.
John introduced me to Mr. Garry Siegel, owner of New Arts Foundry. The single place in which I learned the most about all things relating to casting bronze, and consequently, the best establishment I’ve worked.
I married my ex-wife and moved to Bermuda in1991. We have three beautiful daughters, Pharaoh, Indigo, and Maya. I Love my daughters, and I’m happy that they express themselves creatively.
I worked as a sculpture assistant with Bermudian artist Desmond Fountain. As an art instructor with Bermuda’s Community Education and Development Program and Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Arts; and as an art teacher at Spice Valley Middle School and CedarBridge Academy.
As an art teacher, I realized that I could not encourage my students to take risks that I was afraid to take. Accordingly, I continue to be a tireless and bold advocate for the Arts in Bermuda. As an Artist, I appreciate the importance of integrating Art into our lives. Not just for an esoteric few, but for all. To that end, my most recent show, “Black Apartheid” was a success in incorporating art into the conversation and conscience of wider society. Going forward, I continue the efforts to integrate art into our social economy and consciousness. I’m a vocal proponent of both the Government and corporate community to support local artists and talent by acknowledging and purchasing the work of local artists.
I’m married. We share lot’s of similarities as well as liabilities, details…We have a fabulous daughter, Phoenix.
Now you might note lots of reference to sex. well there’s a good reason. According to my Psychotherapist Tom Gibbons, MSW. I have childhood issues with abandonment my, mom; the focus of my feelings and my need to impress. This childhood conflict shapes my adult life. Intuitively I feel a connection with these emotions and my creativity. As I create my life’s events, I compensate for my feelings of inadequacy with creativity, passions and a desire to create order by moving towards people my super ego.
Mom went to the USA when I was four. At four it did not matter what reason she left, she was not available to me. As an adult, I unconsciously recreate that conflict with the partners in my life hoping for a better outcome. That separation is a tug in my core and fuel for anxieties were I would always come up short. Sex serves as a substitute for my desperation suppressed in my normal childhood, but existing subconsciously in my yearning for attention and drive to create.
My art helps me to understand the influences of my world on me and provides options on how to live secure and happy. Been creative makes me feel that I’m a contributor to something greater than myself. With talent drive, beauty and passion my art compensate for the reasonable childhood fears in a safe environment
Thank you for supporting me