Text: “The Fruitful Yuma Valley, the Yuma Farm Worker Series”
When I first started driving to work in the Yuma Valley twenty-six years ago, approximately a 30-minute commute, I barely noticed what was happening around me. After our two daughters left home to attend Northern Arizona University, it was as though a filter was removed from my eyes. I had been focused on raising our family. I began to see the entire splendor that surrounded me as I drove through the Yuma Valley. The contrast of the patchwork fields against the indigo sky was a wonderment to my eyes. Often, I would see the valley change its colors as a thick cloud formation slowly shadowed the multitude of different farm crops. During the late spring, I saw a sea of greens, sunflower yellows, crimsons, and creams, and sometimes luscious plum colors in a few of the valley crops. A field that had been flood irrigated; it seemed as though it was a lake. Birds such as cow egrets, and occasionally a gray pelican, often hovered overhead, and drank from the refreshing waters.
One cool Saturday morning, I got up early to take some photographs of farm workers near an open fields. That is when I saw a farm worker tilling the field. She appeared to be the only person working in that field that day. I communicated to her that I wished to photograph her against the glorious colorful sky. When I went home, I started painting her image with bright sherbet colored acrylic paints. It was my wish to paint her in vibrant colors because her aura was luminous, and she seemed to be emitting energy; therefore, I named her Luz after my father’s mother, Luz Rodriguez Carvajal. The name, Luz, in Spanish means “light”. Years later after attending Northern Arizona University – Yuma, Dr. Natalie Hess, my Women’s Studies Teacher viewed Luz, the painting image on one of the postcards I had given to her. She suggested that I use Luz’s image be the front cover of my book because it was her favorite image. Whenever I show the painting image of Luz to others, it seems that a majority of people like her image the best of all the paintings, perhaps it is because of the strength of the image with its bold colors or, perhaps, it is because of the way that Luz stands proud with honor and authority.