My creative artist friend, Ernesto, endured a rough couple of years and for a while he “disappeared”. The details are not important. What is important is that he is back and thriving. This piece is a statement of his time in the “abyss.”
I spend over eight years in darkness. There are many terrible aspects of the experience but one of the worst is that much of what you are experiencing cannot be seen. No one really believes you, although many try. Even more frustrating is that you cannot express the depth of your suffering with words. His sculpture instantly spoke to me and I love the name he gave her. She now occupies a space in my office.
There is not a day or minute that passes that I am not grateful to be able to be here and actually thrive. For years I did not think it was possible nor did I have any shred of hope. In the end experiencing this depth of suffering turned out to be a gift that has allowed me to guide many others out of their physical and emotional pain.
ILOHLA (ee-LOH-lah) “to become strong” (Southern Africa)
In making this sculpture I wanted to represent the power of the human spirit. In spite of — or perhaps because of — the traumas of life: pain, emotional scarring, inner turmoil, suffering, we are all capable of inner growth. Seeing oneself not as a victim of external circumstance but as a survivor, allows one to view adverse personal experiences as a path to renewed inner strength and power.
In creating this piece, I asked myself “How can I express physical and tangible suffering, as well as the growth and strength a person may have gained from experiencing them?” To accomplish this I used the body as a landscape. Similar to reading a road map, one only has to look in order to see the pain of the experience.
My goal is to create art that touches the heart and spirit of the viewer and is a vehicle for self-discovery and personal growth. I hope you enjoy “ILOHLA.”
— Ernesto Sanchez, August 2013