20 August 2007

Letter to Lance Wyman

As a girl I was always fascinated by the symbols, colors and graphics of the Mexico City metro system. It seemed so simple to go from one place to another thanks to those little drawings. In fact you didn't even had to read what was underneath. It was very logical!
I remember asking why it was like that, and the answer was not what I expected but for a while it satisfied my curiosity, it was a way of helping the illiterate citizens to find their way in the city. I just couldn't understand why it was so attractive and fascinating but at the same time it was such a normal graphic presence for me.
Those signs were so pleasant that even when I was riding the metro and I had nothing to read I would enjoy looking at them and thinking how and why were they made that way. On my Saturday visits to the big city central museum’s or years later as I was going to La Esmeralda Academy every day I would keep on looking at those animal or thing drawings. Those graphics were an indivisible part of the city and my life.

Other logo's that made me dream were those used for the 1968 Olympic Games. Even though I was not yet 4 years old, the images kept on hanging in my mind: the sports representations, the main logo and the peace sign. The repetitive lines surrounding the word "Mexico" or the numbers "68" had a magical effect on me. Even so young I remember thinking on the logics behind this forms and on the strong attraction it had on me. I don't remember talking with anyone about it. But the Olympic Games are about the first clear and real memories I have. I can still feel the excitement of my small body, carried in the arms of my mother or standing on the washing basin on the back of our just finished new home. From that part of the house there was then a clear view to the Olympic Stadium at the edge of the National University Campus. The cables for hanging the clothes were not so far of my head. It was such a clear day. I remember the green from the Pirul trees just under the small ellipsoidal edge of the beautiful University Stadium. I always though the stadium lamps were too big, so big that I was able to see them from home. Then we were nervously waiting for the opening, I don't know how much I understood what was happening but it was obviously a big party. I remember, that I remember the thousands of white doves and the balloons. For all the years I thought, how is it possible that I can remember the balloons? Now as I searched profusely on the net I was comforted to find photographs of the really huge balloons that were lift into the air that day. The noise of canyons are also a bit hidden in my child memory, I don't know how truthful this is, yet.
The then not so old Periferico, that surrounds 2/3 of the city got also their monumental presents: the so called Ruta de la Amistad, which I never understood completely why the name, why the colors they had and why there weren't one huge cement sculpture for each country, just like they described it to me but only a few countries were represented. I loved the sculptures and I always wanted to go further to see more of them. But finally I had to accept that after the Xochimilco’s Channel of Cuemanco there were no more sculptures and no more Periferico. It ended on temporary (hechizas) tennis courts. Just like that.
My favorite aunt, Maga, was then hostess of the Games, and I was so proud of her, and I remember hearing her stories and sharing her excitement of what I realized even then that it was a very important event. I kind of started understanding the greatness of the world, the country concept. Maga wore a beautiful white short dress with the logo of the Mexico logo in orange. I loved it, I just thought it was great and she looked just the way I wanted to look. Maga was beautiful. She was also so kind to my mother to give her the second dress she received from the organization. That lovely dress, hanged at my mother's huge cast for years until one day I just couldn't find it any more. I kept on asking, but she just discarded it. In fact I keep on asking my mother 30 years later. Even last year Maga's daughter in law asked my mother about the dress to use it for a 60's party, as Maga supposed my mother had kept that amazing dress. It is so long gone...

Another thing that I kept on thinking was the nearly abstract 'peace' symbol of the Games. I didn't understand it completely but just as the rest of all the "corporate image" of the Games, it had a spell on me.
Nearly forty years after I decided to know more about that symbol, and maybe to use it as a source of inspiration for a new series of drawings. An exciting idea because I had been hardly been drawing the last 4 years but instead painting portraits that had pulled me near to realism in my paintings. So using a nearly abstract symbol would make a free start of a new period. Internet gave a very fast answer: 0,11 second and after few minutes I discovered that the whole image of the metro and the Olympic Games were the main creation of the -then- young North American designer Lance Wyman. I have to thank him for giving me so much visual pleasure and unconscious inspiration.

This is only the beginning.
Thanks Lance.

PS: The Mexican Olympic games were promoted as the peace games. 10 days before the opening the government had been shooting to the student mass congregated on the Square of Tlatelolco.

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