Artist Nivia Bejerano draws from traumatic childhood experiences to imbue her portraits of women with pain and power. See more of her art on her website.
There’s so much I can say about my art, but to understand my art you must understand me.
As a child of an addict, I lived all over New England—it was an eventful childhood to say the least. I grew up in the foster care system, so my imagination became my best friend. Doing art is where is where I discovered my talents. You could say that art has been my sanctuary. Most of my pieces depict women; they not only represent me, but they also represent the loss of my mother.
Living in the aftermath of my mother’s overdose was not really living. I struggled a lot as an adolescent without my mother present. She was a beautiful woman with a terrible drug addiction; unfortunately, her beauty proved to be undoubtedly dangerous. Hence the beauty, the danger and the sadness in most of my pieces.
Coming from an abusive upbringing due to growing up in the foster care system and losing not only my mother, but many other loved ones to addiction, pushes me to speak about abuse in my adulthood as well as mental illness and drug addiction.
It has been a difficult journey for me to open up and speak about myself and my truth. I can only hope my courage influences and helps others who share what I have gone through, or who have walked a similar path.
I’d like to say my work speaks for itself, and I believe it pretty much does. My paintings seem to contain a power when you look at them—power and pain.
I use the eyes, lips and facial expressions in my pieces to tell stories—the stories of the many silent children and adults. Through my work I hope to push and to heal the many who can’t speak for themselves. If you look closely at each of my pieces, you will find a parts of me and my mother. The birds and feathers represent the loss of my mother and loved ones.
And if you look even closer, you will notice that some of my female figures actually have beauty marks on the side of their eyes. That’s my trademark. I was born with the same beauty mark on the right side of my own eye.
I can definitely say that my art represents my life. It’s who I am. It’s what I’ve become. I am my own muse and I have embodied my own art as we all should.