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Self Portrait “Once Daily” – Grachek’s “layered windows of time”

This self portrait titled, Once Daily is another “layered window of time.” A follow up to my Flicker series which has the same feel of space and time.  I tried to portray what I see as the past, present and future in a matriarchal sense. The past is obvious as depicted in the vintage photo and the postcard. The present is me, the first layer seen through a transparent portal or window projecting symbolism and tangible memory-things.  The future is described later.

Christina Grachek. Once Daily, 18″ x 24″, acrylic and oil on cradled wood panel.

Once Daily, detail. More on this postcard correspondence below. [Flip side, Union Station postcard here]


The scissors represent severity, sharp edged disappointments and pain that is specific to womanhood.

The connection between La Virgin de Guadalupe and the birth control pills is that there is no connection.  I’ve shared these references before in my installations and several of my paintings. They are two separate entities that I, along with many other women, have experience with.  In the religious sense, if it weren’t for Mary the mother – there would not be a Trinity.  In the matriarchal sense, she is THE MOTHER and in my world, she represents LOVE. The popular iconography of the Virgin Mary speaks to millions.  I’m in it for the purest message in that without love, how do we dare to take risks?  No one could say that Mary did not take risks. Her essence is a great inspiration to me.

The birth control wheel symbolizes the future.  The image reflects free will and the power that only a woman has to affect humanity. That’s a big statement, but when you think of a matriarch – that’s what she does, she wields power in the maternal sense.

And the blue tape. Well, that holds it all together.  Sticking, staying in place, making a commitment to reminisce once daily so as not to forget where I came from, who I am, and where I’m headed.

Me lady. The only place in my studio that is not a cluttered mess. She’s watching over me.

Sidebar: The Postcard: Paternal Grandma Anita wrote to my Grandma Maria “Mary” in May of 1953, three months after my parents were married.  Coincidentally, Anita and Refugio were in Seattle. Grandpa was a union rep in a Cement Masons Union chapter in San Diego.  As a couple they traveled to Seattle for a Regional meeting.  The trompe l’oeil postcard in this painting reflects the correspondence that Mrs. R. Robles wrote to her in-law Mrs. Frank Dominguez.  Both families resided in San Diego.

I think about them, co-matriarchs of my generation.  They both had youngsters newly married to each other and Anita was obviously missing her only son: “Regards to all the family. My love to my Junior + Francis.”

So much to read into this postcard. The actual text is pictured above. It’s a piece of familial history that I cherish (thanks to my sis and aunt for “lending” it to me) and also a dedication of the respect they had for each other in their mutual status as mothers in-law.

Once Daily is painted in acrylic and oil. The self portrait and white transparent “tracing paper” is painted in acrylic and the rest of the trompe l’oeil effect is painted in oil. Dimensions are 18″ x 24″ on cradled wood panel.  If you’re curious as to how I laid down the tracing paper, drop me a line — I’d be happy to share the process with you!

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