As an on-site painter, place is integral to both my subject and process, so when the COVID-19 crisis made traveling difficult, it became clear that I had to shift from working in the field to in the studio and virtual realms. This gave me the opportunity/excuse to fully focus on a research-based project first started during a 2017 working trip to Cuba. It centers on discovering links between my work as a painter and the scientific work of my great uncle, the renown Cuban botanist Juan Tomás Roig.
A deep dive into on-line herbarium archives resulted in finding an immense trove of botanical specimens that were named after Roig and/or collected by him. I found it curious that many of the endemic Cuban plants he collected had also migrated across the world; ultimately residing institutions such as the Smithsonian and Harvard.
These things – the closest I have to family heirlooms – are in museums I can only access digitally. As a Cuban born American citizen, I now find myself relating my own complex identity to these specimens. They illustrate the connections I have made to my environment, the history I lost when we fled Cuba, and the ever-shifting power dynamics that colonialism and migration create.
This work-in-progress “Recollecting Roig” series is a reclamation gesture made by a Cuban-born, American-raised landscape painter yearning to capture and connect to her truncated personal, cultural and artistic heritage. Tallahassee, FL, Summer 2020.
See the full Issue #63 of Arts District Magazine: FLORIDA https://indd.adobe.com/view/3a8c4022-5a86-4457-b788-4f55b3c0af7b
B:20 interview link: https://www.wiregrassmuseum.org/b20-artist-interview-with-lilian-garcia-roig-3/