by Ken Kemp
March 8 will forever be a significant day for Angela Mia de la Vega. This year marks one year since the world said good-bye to Kathleen Smith, Angela’s mother.
In my role as writer and communication director, when I speak to FLITE ARTISTS about the significance of the creative process, I hear responses like “art was my savior!” “Art brings me peace.” “Art heals.” “Art gives me perspective.” “Art takes me away from the pressures of the moment.” “Art gives me solace.” “Art energizes me.” This, as you know by now, is the essence of the purpose and mission of Flite to Freedom – to promote art as liberator.
No one understands these sentiments better than Angela.
On what would otherwise be a melancholy day, she shared a powerful experience that came to her as she worked in the studio. It happened as she reflected on her beloved Mom’s passing. She gave me permission to share it with you.
Recently, two separate sets of grandparents commissioned Angela to sculpt their grandchildren: one with a set of four, the other five. That makes nine life-sized sculptures. These assignments keep her busy in the studio these days. Angela not only works from photographs of each, she also spends time with the children to get a sense of their personality, their movement and their manner. Angela’s gift goes beyond proportion and technical perfection. She imagines and then crafts a scene that tells a story – the beauty and wonder of the human form in a context of garden or field, sometimes in the company of a cherished pet or an open book, expressing an irresistible incarnation of emotion and warmth and charm. It’s magical and mystical, really.
We all have come to love and embrace her extraordinary work.
On Friday, March 8, Angela put finishing touches on the clay model in the studio, all the while thinking of her mother. The laughter and pride and joy she expressed so effortlessly filled her mind and heart. Her mom blessed not only her daughter the sculptor, but her children and her grandchildren and her wide circle of friends, too. A sadness came over Angela for the loss, just one year ago.
But then, as she worked on the eyes and slight smile of one of those grandchildren, shaping the form out of a lump of clay, a face appeared under the artist’s skilled hands, replicating the little girl she had come to know. The clay eyes glowed, and in them, Angela saw her mother eyes, smiling back, with a hint of mischief, a combination of contentment and curiosity, and a beckoning into her world of wonder.
The sadness of the day disappeared. It was as though her mother had entered the room, exchanging that sense of loss with a celebration of joy. It all came together in that moment of creation.
When her friend Yvette encountered the extraordinary clay sculpture of the grand-daughter in the studio, she proposed a title. Angela knew right then, she had the perfect name for this young girl who had magically brought back her Mom, even for a few moments.
Her name is Harmony.
This is the serendipity that artists know. It comes unexpected, unearned. It makes for a flight to freedom - in the studio, and all over the world - the oppressed find it, too. That's our calling. Our mission. It's working.
The heart takes wings.