The painting was a close up of a lion's face staring at the viewer with a powerful, unwavering gaze. Wild brush strokes mimicked the texture of fur. Colorful mane burst from the face to the edge of the canvas creating an aura of vitality. It was a still image that felt as though it could surge to life at any moment. A glimpse of a wild animal in a very controlled state.
I asked Lemus if I could have one of the images as a magnet. He was sold out at the time but assured me he would have more soon. I realized I knew the meaning behind some of his other works but not this one. I asked him what the lion represented to him.
He said that artists are like lions. You may go long periods of time without eating, without anything to sustain yourself, but you still have to carry yourself the the King of the Jungle. You still have to be proud. You have to be ferocious.
Over the next few weeks I moved and got to reflect more on this thought.
You see, this was my 7th move in eight years, and my second move this particular year. I came to Orlando right before I turned 21 and I can't say that it has been easy.
Six months after I transferred to Orlando the grocery store that I had been employed with for five years went under. I was 100 miles away from home and living with a roommate who was suffering from profound depression. That was when I decided that I was going to rise from this mess.
I have worked jobs that have worn me down just so I could scrape by on rent. I have lived with people who have blamed me for all their problems even as I tried to help them. I spent five years in college working on a major people thought was impractical and stayed up for hours making my projects perfect. I was on a first name basis with the overnight crew at the local FedEx print shop.
One day I came home from being at work for almost eighteen hours straight only to find that my most recent roommate had trashed my room. I woke up the next morning - the day everyone thought the Mayans said the world would end - and the first thought that came to my mind was that I wanted to live alone. Let everyone else think this is the end. This day was going to mark my new beginning.
It wasn't until I moved into my new apartment that my head started to clear a little. And I began to see the past eight years in a whole new perspective.
Sure, I did spend a long time struggling through college. But I got into a major that I loved and I was so proud to finally graduate. I have had some awful jobs, but now I have a job that I adore. And even though the hours are long and the work is hard, the job is fulfilling and forced me to grow as an artist as well as an individual. And living with difficult roommates has allowed me to rediscover the beauty of being alone. These walls have become my breathing room, a means to center myself.
Looking back on these last eight years I am amazed to see how far I have come.
A short while after my move I ran into Lemus again and he let me pick out my magnet. I shuffled through the box until I found the one I wanted - the strong and stoic lion, bursting with color.
I held the magnet in my hands as I went up to thank him.
"I thought a lot about what you said about how the lion is like the artist. That really meant a lot to me. I have to fight for everything I have and I am glad I never gave up. I am so proud of the person I am today."
He smiled and said "Well, now you've got your own space so meditate and make it your own."
I went home and placed the magnet on my fridge. A reminder of my power and inner strength. To always remain proud and ferocious. A mirror to show me that I am becoming the lion.
|Original art work by German Lemus.|
To see more art work by German Lemus, please visit: http://www.rawartists.org/lemus11