I Never Felt Like A Spanish Kid (2015)
Oil on canvas panel, re-framed, 12 x 9 inches (30.5 x 22cm)
Photo courtesy the artist
The work was Shirt's first time showing in a public group exhibition, in the New York Times building for Latin Heritage Month. On opening night, on hand next to the work a piece of paper with the accompanying text read:
Shirt did not paint this. The work shown was painted by Shirt's great aunt, Ondina, and completed between the years 1990-1992. The work has been reframed and retitled by Shirt.
In the spring of 1950, Shirt's grandmother, Mercedes, arrived in New York from the Dominican Republic. The next year her older sister Ondina would follow. The women were eager to succeed and build the life they’d dreamt about since young girls. Mercedes, having just graduated with a law degree in her home country, joined the United Nations and began to travel. She later became a social worker and worked in Queens, New York. Her sister, Ondina, after graduating medical school and interning at a hospital in Brooklyn, became a licensed pediatrician and opened her own practice. In the early 1970's, Ondina moved her family from modest Flushing, Queens, to a home with a pool, in Stonybrook, Long Island. It was in this home at this stage in her life, that the restless woman took up painting fine art, becoming quite enamored and completing many works.
When Ondina passed in late 2013, at her funeral service, various family members and friends were persuaded to take the paintings home, as a memory. There were colorful paintings of all sizes surrounding her casket. Shirt was not able to attend the funeral. This was the lone work saved and given to him by a cousin.