02/27/2009 ⋅


Hope is the thrust which make us aware of God in every little thing we do, in every curb of our path, in every smile we match or in every glace we manage to lit up.

Our spiritual path is not dependant on great deeds but on the quotidian graces that God blesses us with on every step of our way. We just have to learn to be aware and manage to read the symbols with which He is trying to communicate- and this can only be done through prayer.

God is present in everything we do and say, even if our tasks seem superficial or mechanical; St Theresa of Avila said 500 years ago, “Don’t be sad when obedience draws you to involvement in exterior matters. Know that if it is in the kitchen, the Lord walks among the pots and pans helping you both interiorly and exteriorly” (Interior Castle, 3:119-20)

In my work I’ve been inspired by the writings of this XVI century Mystic and have tried to understand them in a contemporary way. Our life is clattered every day with information, junk mail, bills, with papers that eat us up and we only want to get rid of them as soon as possible. But one day I realized that a dentist’s appointment note or the endless school letters which I through away so quickly, where to be valued – somebody had taken the time to write them, give them a thought and send them to me, so in a way they were part of my life and I thanked the Lord for that person that took the time to care for me. I started gathering all those papers that clattered my life and at the same time were a map of my daily path and I prayed over them, to value  and glorify all the people that had been involved in making them – the cashier at the super market who smiled giving me a load of coupons (now I didn’t grump, I gathered them with joy because they had become material for my paintings!) , that newspaper story that had jumped at me that morning, I would cut it out and pray for the person that was involved in the news, even for the journalist himself!… Nothing was superfluous, everything had a meaning and all was part of my personal path of prayer.

I would glue as a collage all the cuttings, notes, papers, children’s homework or even bills (sometimes I encountered problems when I realized that I had to look for them under the paint!) – and while I was doing this I would pray in silence for each and every person, even the courier or the postman that made it possible for those messages to reach my hands. Then I would apply soft, white tissue paper over the collage as the breath of the Holy Spirit acting over our lives. In this way I try to glorify those small daily actions by bringing the protection and presence of God over them. Sometimes I would apply paint over the collage before, as a way of manifesting the turbulence in our lives, the frantic speed, the noise and sometimes the chaos which can often override us. The flow of the soft paper over this boiling climax soothes the soul and acts as the peacemaker in our life – this is prayer.

Once we have encountered the peace of prayer in our soul, THEN God can speak to us, and we can encounter the deepness of Grace. At that moment, on the quiet resting touch of the paper – our soul - God is able to interact and burns us with His fire of Love, which is both powerful but tender – I translate this action with the flow of hot wax over the painting – at first it burns but then it becomes soft to the touch and sweet to the scent – like the action of our Lord over our lives, sometimes it can burn us at first but then once it settles it is comforting and peaceful.

Often, when I apply the wax I place obstacles on the path of its fluidity – just as we encounter problems in our daily life that distracts us apart from the Lord – when I use iron powder I’m usually trying to symbolize how our heart is made of rock and how God tries to transform it into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36, 26). The iron represents all those barriers that block us from coming closer to God – but He is more powerful and melts them, breaking them apart like an explosion. Other times I use ashes (which I take from the fireplace) and I pour wax over them, signifying “ashes to ashes” – our sins are washed and the Love of the Lord acts upon them as a purifying force, reconstructing our life and our souls.

Other times as a final layer I might use metallic paint washes which depending where you are in the room you might see them or not – to me that is a symbol of the presence of God in our life. He is always there - like the paint is there, even if from that side you cannot notice it – God is always with you, even in your dry moments he is by your side although you cannot feel Him, but one day you will move to another perspective and He will shine out from the canvas like no other colour had done before.

When I use blue metallic paint it is with the same meaning but to me it represents the veil of Our Lady, covering over us, with a delicate touch, not interceding, accompanying without imposing, always present but in the shade, until one day you feel Her love shine above all others.

Finally, I usually use a bright fluorescent paint, which I have to cover with several layers to disguise its vivid yellow-green pigment – I often cover it with paper cuttings, tissue paper, paint or wax – but somehow along the process its effect endures to life. When you turn off the lights the paintings come to life like three-dimensional souls, giving you the real meaning of the work – it has a personal sense to each one of us individually as if it has a private message that we each understand differently depending on our background and our “interior luggage”. In darkness the paintings lit up as the rim of light that sneaks under the door, trying to say that even if you are in darkness in your life there is always a rim where the light will enter.

HOPE, never despair, even in darkness there is light, never loose trust and abandon yourself to the will of God. God will guide you through the dark night of the soul as He is the Light of the World.

“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”

(Bookmark found in St Theresa of Avila’s prayer book after her death in 1582)


Maria Tarruella, of Madrid, Spain, received her BA in European Cultural Studies at the American University in Paris, graduating Cum Laude with a concentration in Art History. Continued her studies in Fine Arts (painting concentration) at the University of  Bellas Artes in Barcelona, Spain, she also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and at Sotheby´s Institute in London. Tarruella worked in Venice, at the Guggenheim Collection and in London and Madrid for Sotheby´s. She has had successful solo exhibitions in Madrid and Barcelona; her work is sold internationally, being part of private collections in Spain, Rome, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Mexico, Israel and Dubai. This is her first show in the US.