Portraits of A Quincenera

By Becca Vershbow
Visiting Artist

(Producer's Note: Becca Vershbow visited Our Little Roses during the New Year 2012/13, befriending the girls and painting portraits of them at important transitional moments.)

In my too short 2-1/2 days at el hogar, I had time to draw 3 of the 6 young women on the day of their joint quinceneras. 

Portrait #1, Becca Vershbow, December 30th, 2012. 
The day before the service, a Quincenera watches footage from the state-run orphanage
with fellow quincenera who used to live there. She is curious about and upset by the stories she hears. 
During this time, each of these girls opened themselves to me in a way I could't have expected and, so, I had the chance to really capture them. Their faces might explain them in a way that words maybe can't. 

Portrait #2, Becca Vershbow, December 31st, 2012.
 Quincenera reads in the guest apartment, giving me a second try after a failed attempt to draw her the day before.
This is just after the service that has transformed her. 

At this turning point in their lives, where they shed the comfort of being a girl and step into the responsibility and possibility of being a woman, their beauty is astounding. Their faces are soft and delicate, their eyes are full of wonder and excitement. But they have scars and depth and they know more than many of us have learned in a much longer lifetime. They are, in many ways, wise beyond their years…which is why they don't look 15 at all. When I asked the one in green how the day of her Quincenera was different than what she'd expected, she told me with an eloquence and calm that can only come from a deep sense of self, "I didn't think it was going to be such a an important day but I know my life has changed." 

Portrait# 3, Becca Vershbow, December 31st, 2012.
Quincenera sits for her portrait in the courtyard at el hogar,
surrounded by 15 girls of all ages, as we each ask endless questions about the other's life.
The feast and dance party are just about to start.