Rosa Mesa

Project “Talking to My Mother”,


Every time I call my mother whether in despair, in worry or in happiness she always answers my questions with the gift of a proverb. For Canary Islands people this is a custom and although my mother does not speak English her wisdom always finds an echo in Canada. Proverbs are universal wisdom. They belong to you if you remember them. They exist only if you pass them to others.
This project “Talking to My Mother” is part of my ongoing three year exploration of oral tradition, using proverbs as metaphors for intergenerational communication.
I have researched the evolution, forms of transmission and significance of proverbs within different cultures such us the Chinese, English, and Hispanic, using my privilege situation in Chinatown, Toronto. I have an interest in exploring the capacity of the proverb to address socio-cultural issues and their role in transmitting collective values.
In the Canary Islands tradition the proverb advises people what to do in a particular circumstance, providing guidelines to any given situation. In our time the disconnection with our ancestors has broken the transmission of this beautiful guide to peoples’ lives. My work seeks to restore proverbs to our collective memory.
My first show on the subject was in November 2002 at “Ne Plus Ultra Project”, where I presented proverbs that were common to the English, Spanish and Chinese languages.
For the Yugoslav Biennial of Young Artist my project will cross the borders of visual arts and oral tradition in a public space. I intend to use proverbs from the area of the former Yugoslavia. I have been working with members of their community, here in Toronto, researching their oral tradition and having the proverbs translated in English, Spanish and Serbian. I will address proverbs from the former Yugoslavia that talk about multiculturalism, reconstruction, reconciliation, hope and tolerance.
For this occasion I will install myself in a public area. The organizers have told me to expect around 100 people per day. I will provide photocopies of my drawings on proverbs in exchange for a proverb.
In the night of the opening it will be a stand from which I will donate to the participants who would ask a proverb about an issue that they will feel interest in.