Wearing Our Stories


Artifacts of My Father (Artefactos de mi Padre)

Neck Adornment: an excavation triptych in fused glass 

I. Introduction

The impetus for this excavation originally formulated on the evening of January 8, 2009 when my father, Armando Barrera Guerra quietly slipped away from this world in his hometown of Brownsville, Texas. Through subsequent months, as I began to dig through the years of
stories around the dinner table, trips to the homeland, photographs, and a handful of personal affects, these items of historical and personal significance began to emerge. They were always there, as it turned out. I had failed to investigate their existence, and thus proved negligent as a paternal archeologist. It is my sincere hope, however, that as an artist I can shed some light on the importance and meaning of these rare and amazing objects as well as the man they represent. 


 II. The ABG Triptych

Panel 1: Early Years

The green plant that is the centerpiece of this
panel harkens to a vibrant youth. Apparently,
the subject was much interested in such activities,
as swimming, dancing, and football. Many tales were
told (repeatedly) to attest to this fact, and never
without a smile or wry comment in the telling. The
young plant, however, soon begins to experience a
transformation as its roots wind along the perimeter.
It begins to take on the appearance of fiery scales
as innocence yields to experience.
Let it be noted: there is an obvious influence of
early Aztec and Mayan motifs in this panel and indeed
throughout the entire triptych. It was witnessed that
the subject enjoyed such Mesoamerican designs and kept
vestiges of them around his habitat throughout his life. 


 Panel 2: The Pinnacle

The fiery scales of the previous panel are now
fully converted into the Aztec fire serpent,
Xiuhcoatl: embodiment of the sun's rays, feared,
and respected. The green innocence is now gone,
he has honed himself into a leader and commander.
The seven stars of the Pleiades adorn his curving
snout which in turn parallels the number of his
wife and children. Words project from his mouth
(symbolized by the puffs of breath or clouds,
a common representation found in the ancient Aztec
codices). Also, a river is beginning to flow from
that same source that suggests a train of events
which will determine what follows. 


 Panel 3: Sol Que Tú Eres (Sun That You Are)

The years of strength and influence are gone. The remnant of life, represented by a lone blood red chalupa, is bobbing upon the sea of self creation. The body and mind of the once fearsome serpent are but a scorched twig fading under the searing sun and drifting slowly into oblivion. 

Dad and Mary Jane- porcelain portrait

 III. Conclusion
I am a glass artist who specializes in making items for personal adornment so naturally these artifacts are no exception. The triptych in its entirety can be displayed as a wall sculpture and individual panels can be mounted upon the neck torc for wearing. I was determined to incorporate at least one component from my father's personal estate and that manifests itself as the two retractable cuff link studs that hold the panel segments onto the metal neckpiece. Ultimately, that's what makes it possible to wear this story… his story…

…Thank you, Dad.