Gabriel Rojas
→MFA PT 2023

Papa came to the end of the table. We were all sitting waiting for him, my mom with those impatient eyes. Before he sat down he grabbed the brown pipe and packed it. He smoked, my mom said a little prayer, and we ate. Breakfast was always my favorite. Mama always cut the toasted bread in half for me, so I had my two little triangles. One would get the butter, the other the orange marmalade. Today, I squished them together, alternating bites with milk. It was ritualistic. But not as much as other days when I would bite the triangle with the butter, then the triangle with the orange marmalade, then sip the milk, and repeat. Always in that order. If someone suggested I bite the orange toast triangle first, I would have been completely repulsed.

There was a certain way my food had to be. Mama understood most of the time. But on the days she was busy and forgot to give me the onion-free macaroni, I refused to eat. Señorito had to have his way. I was such a little shit. When her patience would run out, she wouldn’t allow me to leave the table. Sasha and Rodrigo were already watching TV in the living room and I was missing out. I could whine and humph all I wanted, but she was there, strong and statuesque, not saying a word. A quiet strength. Neither of us would budge.

It was a stalemate, but not for long.

Picante de Pollo, 2023, collaged paintings, oil on canvas, 96 x 105"

Gabriel Rojas is an artist and muralist exploring the relationship between memory and ritual through abstract painting.