So the time arrived and my sabbatical began a little over a week ago. My mom would always tell me that all you have to do is start and that’s so true. In life all you have to do is active your thought through action. Get the wheels in motion and the universe will literally throw everything you need in your direction. This year will mark 20 years since my father passed away so I would like to think that this project that I have embarked on is 20 years in the making. Anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about my father. To say that he was an extraordinary human being is an understatement. To say that he was a phenomenal father isn’t sufficient. To say that he was genius as an artist only touches the surface. In time I realized the most difficult part in accepting his passing is knowing that everyone did not have the opportunity to meet him and experience the sheer pleasure of knowing him. Also, I look at where South Florida is, the mecca of art and culture, and know that he would have been a prominent and influential political activist/artist of the time. In my down time I have been researching the journey my father took once he arrived to the United States in 1980. The more I find, the more proud, and impressed I am by my father’s journey and his accomplishments.
I work for Charles River Laboratories (CRL) in a dual role in their Insourcing Solutions division. Last year, CRL started a sabbatical program where they select 100 employees out of 10,000 to complete a personal or professional project each year. This year I was chosen among the 1%. In the next 4 weeks, I will be photographing and cataloging my father’s artwork. I will also be meeting with individuals that he has influenced throughout his lifetime and who have influenced him. My journey starts in Central America in his hometown of Panama/Costa Rica and where it will end….who knows? I have a month filled of exciting assignments to complete and the adventure has already begun.
I started my journey in Costa Rica where I was fortunate enough to visit one of my father’s first murals. I rode 2 ½ hours one way to the mountain top in the province of Cartago. The journey was an adventure in itself, as we drove through, we experienced at least 4 major climate changes. It went from hot, to rainy, to foggy, to freezing cold temperatures in the 40’s, back to foggy, rainy, and then sunny. When I finally arrived to the small beautiful town the weather was a perfect sunny 75 degrees. I was able to meet with Pastor Juan Paulo Quivos who gave me a history of the church and plans to add additional artwork to the interior of the church. If that was not enough, during my trip, I was fortunate enough to find personal collections and learn more about how they were acquired throughout the country. My trip ended with me meeting several of my father’s family members for the first time including my father’s favorite aunt and two sisters that live in a small town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. My trip was rich in family history and amazing stories regarding my father’s love of painting.
What has started as a relatively straightforward project has already transformed into a massive undertaking. The more I search, the more wonderful things I find regarding my father and his contributions to the communities that he served. I am anxious to share my findings with the world as I continue to learn more about my father’s many accomplishments.
If you have a private art piece or have worked with my father in the past I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-697-6770. To stay current with me and my projects, please visit my website at www.tashathomas.org and follow me on Instagram at @dr.tasha.thomas.