Links & Collections
UIC Archive

This web site presents
the work of Esther Parada accompanied by texts taken from her writings.


Toned silver print, 11” x 14”

Past Recovery, 1980

"Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman's dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called pentimento because the painter "repented", changed his mind. Perhaps it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again.

That is all I mean about the people in this book. The paint has aged now and I wanted to see what was there for me once, what is there for me now."

—From Pentimento by Lillian Hellman

In developing the one-hundred frame composite piece called Past Recovery, I began with a small photograph of the fifteenth wedding anniversary celebration of my great aunt and uncle, March 23, 1920. The old family photograph became the matrix for other family photographs (dating from about 1910 through 1978) which are layered upon it. My sister’s face at age two, for example, is juxtaposed with her own image thirty years later and with that of a great aunt whom we never met, although family legend has it that they were cast in the same mold. Similarly, I have introduced images of my parents, grandparents, another sister and brother and of our children. Beyond personal significance for me, this is a way of speaking generally about perception filtered through one's cumulative experience.

The past is woven into the fabric of the present—genetically, psychologically, optically—and is transformed, beyond recovery.

—Artist Statement

In the collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Return to top. Return to artwork.