AVE MARIA by D. Berubé
Here’s why this painting is called Ave Maria. It is a reimagining of the nativity set in a rundown corner of the inter-city. The use of sacred imagery in an urban setting is meant for you to draw comparisons. It is harder to dismiss the presumed Mother of God as being insignificant or worth less than more fortunate people.
This piece speaks to the plight of poor homeless women, considerations of single motherhood, the possibility of flight from domestic violence, isolation, and/or the plight of immigrants.
The image reminds us that finding “no room at the inn” is a reality faced by many people, and all too often by women and children. They are faced with life on the street and not by their own choice.
While not exclusively a political statement, the Virgin Mother as a Latina female, enduring hardship yet maintaining a mother’s grace, challenges us to acknowledge her humanity. It suggests compassion has no boundaries. It is a relatable image, not a celestial virgin crowned with gold, but a real human being struggling with poverty and separateness.
It speaks to the struggle of the individual. As with the biblical account of the holy family, either literally or figuratively, many of us have experienced unfair judgement, or exclusion. That common struggle helps us grasp the concept of being a stranger in a strange land
Finally, use of graffiti as a backdrop is meant to provide the setting with color and subtle messages within the image. The graffiti also provides a possible secular interpretation, suggesting her apparent halo, is simply a reflection of wall paint. The uncertainty of her sanctity creates more room for broader interpretation.
Ultimately the meaning of the art is what the beholder makes of it, and even the artist’s interpretation is not the final word.