The symbolism in this painting calls to something very deep within me. It is a painting by Barbara Taffet. In 1973, she reinvented herself as Maria Alquilar, a Latina artist whose fictive back story included a Sephardic Jewish father from Argentina. Drawing on her deep knowledge of world myths and spiritual traditions, filtered through her own personal mythology, she began creating idiosyncratic works inspired by the work of the California Sacramento-Davis area narrative expressionist, outsider and funk artists she admired and collected.
Adoption robs us of our actual cultural heritage. All my life until very recently, I believed my dad was half-Mexican and my mom possibly half-African American. They were both adoptees and for what little we knew about our familial roots, we could claim any story we wanted and not even our own selves knew whether it was true or not.
So along came inexpensive DNA testing. Both my mom and I had ours done at Ancestry. Later on, I had mine also tested at 23 and Me. My mom has some Mali in her and so, I suspect slavery had something to do with that. My dad’s dark complexion actually came by way of his Danish immigrant father. I have learned there is some Ashkenazi Jew in me and suspect that comes via a family that lived for generations on Long Island New York.
Why does this painting call so deeply to my soul – there is that Jewish symbol and there is the Southwestern symbols as well. There is a predator protecting it’s prey – my maternal grandmother was preyed upon by Georgia Tann, the famous baby thief of Memphis Tennessee. And it is always about the bunnies in my household. The angelic image at the top is more like a Jackrabbit which fits nicely with my New Mexican birth.
In many transracial adoptions, the very young child is not only cut off from their cultural heritage but loses contact with their native language. It may be difficult to understand how disorienting that is but I get it. It’s time to change the rules of the adoption game.