Renee Rodriguez took a trip to San Miguel de Allende in 2014 thinking that it would be the last trip of her life. With terminal cancer, Rodriguez wanted to spend what she thought were her last days on Earth doing what she loves most: taking photographs that are guided by her spirituality.
But that trip in Mexico was not only magical but also miraculous. The photographer spent her trip capturing with her camera the churches throughout that city in Mexico, which is one of the most visited ones in the world, to later find out that there was hope and that she was going to survive terminal cancer.
“This is very significant; this is probably the proudest body of work that I’ve ever exhibited. Because this is literally a visual conversation at a time when I was supposed to be exiting, but I wasn’t ready. And I didn’t believe in my heart that it was time, but I was open to whatever was in store, based on what I was seeing,” she said.
“I’ve always been a follower and a believer. I was born and raised Catholic and born-again Christian now. … The blessing and the irony to be able to stand here today in Brownsville, honoring this opportunity, this window, these walls, it’s just the world to me.”
Her exhibit “Ascencion: An observation with HIM” opened last week at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art and will run until July 3.
The artist selected seven photographs out of the more than 4,000 she took on that trip, which focus on the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel and several other churches that are located throughout San Miguel de Allende. She said seven of the oldest cathedrals are in that city and she knew, as a believer, that she had to be there.
“For 10 days, I captured about 4,800 photographs as we walked the streets, the sidewalks, the churches, and this is just my moments in each space. These are my solitary moments that’s why it’s ‘An observation with him’ because all of my photography is all spiritually guided. I never create anything for myself. I see the vision and then I go produce,” she said.
“It was enchanting. It was absolutely enchanting. I can still feel the air temperature on my skin. Everything was so colorful. It is a piece of heaven on Earth. So, to walk away of that city as a visual artist, I had to show the world something, a different aspect.”
Deyanira Ramirez, executive director at the museum, said the exhibit transmits a lot of peace and hopes residents throughout the Rio Grande Valley attend the museum to enjoy it. She said the biggest mission of the museum is to support the arts and the local artists.
“This exhibit is based on spirituality, something very personal to the artist. We decided to exhibit this in the gallery that is located on the café side because the place is cozy,” she said.
“Our visitors will enjoy it during their time here. To us, it means a lot because we are very proud to be exhibiting work from an artist that has participated in group exhibits in the museum.”
With COVID-19 restrictions loosening, the museum will again host their summer camps after the one-year hiatus. The camps, which offer music and art classes, will begin June 14 and will run until Aug. 13 for children ages 6 to 12.
“We are ready to start our summer camps. Registration is already open and we are going to have eight weeks of summer camps. The schedule is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for children ages 6 to 12 and we have scholarships available,” she said.
For more information, call the museum at (956) 542-0941.