Christian Tomás Colón Garnica

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Christian Tomás Colón Garnica. Digital art: Jan Nimmo ©

Christian Tomás Colón Garnica, a student at the Raúl Isidro Burgos Normalista Teacher Training School, Ayotzinapa, Guerrero is from La Zapoteca, a poor barrio of Tlacolula. Tlacolula is in Oaxaca State, a southern neighbour of Guerrero. Christian went to study in Ayotzinapa because his parents could not afford for him to continue studying at home and in going to the Normailsta school he would have the opportunity to continue studying and have bed and board provided while he was there.

In an interview for Oaxaca Quadratin his sister in-law, Juana Pérez Gómes, describes how the family have been absent from home as they have been searching for Christian since he was forcibly disappeared along with 42 of his fellow students on the 26th of September 2014. This has meant that the only income to support the family has come from what they earn from a modest little shop. His father is a labourer who earns £28 a week. All of the disappeared Normalista students come from low income families so there will have been many sacrifices along the way in the search for their missing sons. That said, in a show of solidarity, the residents of the barrio, who are just as poor as Christian’s family, along with the local authority in Tlacolula and community members, collected money to help with the parents’ travel expenses to Chilpancingo and Iguala. Read more about it in this article in Imparcial Oaxaca, here.

Christian’s family have searched Guerrero, and, like all the other parents, want him home alive. They are people of faith and hope that their prayers to the Virgin will be answered.

In this piece I have used a background image from the stone carvings from the Mixtec ae-archeological site at Mitla not far from Tlacolula. I first passed through there with my husband, Paul, many years ago now, and vividly remember the bus journey through Tlacolula on the way to the site at Mitla… we had visited Teotitlan del Valle and Santa María del Tule to see the 2000 year old tree there. In the top right hand corner I have incorporated Paul’s sketch of that journey which he made in his diary. In subsequent trips I stayed in the city of Oaxaca and each day visited the small towns round and about the Valle Central making sure that my visits coincided with market days or cattle fairs. The markets are good place to meet people selling anything from fruits and vegetables to handmade objects. In the portrait I have included the image of an alebrije style carved wooden lizard which I bought on one of these trips.

Tlacolula-Mitla. Drawing: Paul Barham ©

Tlacolula-Mitla. Drawing: Paul Barham ©

This spring a Mexican student, Ramiro, contacted me from Eugene, Oregon, USA regarding an event that he and others at Eugene4Ayotzinapa were planning to host with Normalista parents during their awareness raising tour of the States, Caravana 43. He had seen the portraits I was making on the internet and wondered if I would be happy for them to use my portraits for their event. I was, of course, both delighted and moved, so agreed and sent him the files. The great thing about making digital art is that it can be uploaded and printed anywhere. When I finish the portraits I hope to be able to work with Eugene4Ayotzinapa to have aware raising exhibitions in High Schools there.

Ramiro told me he was from Oaxaca, and it was only after I had published the portrait of Christian online that Ramiro got back to me and told me that he too was from Tlacolula. He might be far away from his home town but he is demonstrating the same spirit of solidarity as his fellow townsfolk in Tlacolula.

In the portrait I have incorporated the lyrics of a famous Mexican song, Canción Mixteca, a song for the homesick, for those sad to be far from their homeland, the beautiful Central Vally of Oaxaca, La Tierra del Sol (land of the sun).

Canción Mixteca

Que lejos estoy del suelo
Donde he nacido.
Inmensa nostalgia
Invade mi pensamiento.
Y al verme tan solo y triste
Cual hoja el viento.
Quisiera llorar,Quisiera morir
De sentimiento.

Oh! tierra del sol
Suspiro por verte.
Ahora que lejos
Yo vivo sin luz.
Sin amor.
Y al verme
Tan solo y triste
Cual hoja el viento
Quisiera llorar,Quisiera morir
De sentimiento.

Miguel Aceves Mejía

Mixtec Song

How far I am from the soil
Where I was born.
Immense nostalgia
Invades my thoughts.
And seeing myself so alone and sad
Like a leaf in the wind.
I would like to cry, I would like die
of sorrow.

Oh! Land of the sun
I long to see you.
Now that I live to far away
I live without light
Without love.
And seeing myself so alone and sad
Like a leaf in the wind.
I would like to cry, I would like die
of sorrow.

Miguel Aceves Mejía

There are hundreds of versions of this song but here you can listen to the version I heard first – Antonio Agular (Thanks, Julie Oxberry) – or listen to a Oaxacan marimba version from Marimba Oaxaca.

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