Friday, October 13, 2006

Mother Death

Aldo Buselli came from Peru to New Orleans Louisiana to become an architect. He was already an artist. School was his main focus and his art was "playing" for him.

A young man shrouded in South American Catholicism arrived in that most different of southern US cities where the raised above ground cemeteries are major attractions. These cities of the departed were focal points for a culture.

Statue of Grief - Metairie Cemetery

I do not know all of Aldo's story. He was a friend of a friend and I think I met him only once very briefly during one of my visits to the city.

Aldo's Catholicism seemed to merge with the spirits of New Orleans and his senior architecture project was a design for a cemetery.

Perhaps he knew before it was known. This was very early in the AIDS epidemic before it had a name. He died not too long after he returned to his home in Peru. By then it had a name.

Pencil drawing
Aldo Buselli

Fifteen years later I was visiting my same friend, now in Orlando. She pulled out a long tall and narrow cardboard box and said please go through this and pick some thing to take. This is Aldo's art work that I have been carting around all these years. It is time for me to let some of it go.

Most of the works contained in the box were rough sketches and drawings. Some of the pieces had a more finished look. The subject matter was diverse. As I went through the large quantity of contents that had been contained in the long narrow box nothing was calling out to me. It was nice but if it didn't speak to me I was not going to be taking it back to Hawaii.

Then she appeared as I turned the pages in the pile of art and I stopped. Pressed into thick heavy paper was a faceless dark feminine figure. The image was textured and the folds of her garments actually existed in the folds and creases of the paper. That pressed image was then colored degrees of black. She appeared again in the pile and then a third time. Three images of this dark figure each slightly different. One was signed and titled by Aldo. This is what I wanted.

Aldo Buselli
'Mother Death'

Mother Death spoke to me of her gentle loving embrace. This dark feminine image said what I felt to be true. Death is not to be feared. I sleep under her watchful gaze, ready at any time and in no hurry. Life may be made just a little bit easier when there is no need to worry about death.

Let the world stop turning
Let the sun stop burning
Let them tell me love's not worth going through
If it all falls apart, I will know deep in my heart
The only dream that mattered had come true
In this life, I was loved by you.
(Listen to Braddah Iz - n dis Life)

It is this Life that matters and what you leave for the living.
Not what may or may not come after.

Vincent van Gogh - Pieta


Annie in Austin said...

Thank you for the links to the music, Christopher. Like most people, if I hear the name 'Iz', his version of "Over the Rainbow" starts playing in my mind. If that song comes on unexpectedly [usually as part of a commercial, it seems] then there are a few seconds of intense sadness, not just for Iz, but because the song played on ER when Mark Green died. Only after acknowledgement of those two deaths, one real, and one fictional, can I move on to just love the song for itself. I should listen to other songs by this wonderful singer, instead of keeping him imprisoned by imposed memories and images.

The artwork by Aldo Buselli is strange but beautiful - and so is your tale of how it eventually came to be yours.

I'm still thinking about the calm way in which you speak of Mother Death.


Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

I searched all over the net for 'Hawaii 78' sung by Braddah Iz for the Haleki'i Heiau post and couldn't find it for a audio link. I finally bought if for 99cents thinking I could link to it some how.

I tried this am to upload it to YouTube but it said wrong file type. There are free music sharing sites but that involves another account. Maybe I will try the site with the link from this post.

My other friend Annie has several other pieces of Aldo's work that she has had framed for many years.

His 'Mother Death' probably didn't appeal to her since she was born on November 2nd, All Souls' Day and her Cuban Catholic mother thought it was bad juju and lied to her for thirty years and told her she was born on November 1st, All Saint's Day. Halloween was her pre-birthday for many years until she found out the truth which left a bit of trauma and resentment I think.

In Mexican latin culture November 1st is Dia De Los Muertos. It gets all jumbled up in my head when her real actual birthday is so I just try to remember to call on Halloween.

The culture of Latin American Catholism puts Aldo's work into more of a perspective for us Norte Americano's to try and understand the context from which it emerged.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I can see why the creased paper images appealed to you -- Based on the art I've seen in my life so far, I'm thinking that's probably an uncommon artistic medium, and I imagine it must have been a painstaking process for Aldo to form the folds in just the right places to look like the clothing fit naturally onto the woman's figure. I especially like the way you arranged the three individual images of Mother Death side-by-side in one frame as you did. From the glimpses you've given us so far of your place, I get the impression that you have a strong talent for home decorating in general too.

Those lyrics to Braddah Iz - n dis Life touch me very deeply. I knew you were sentimental about your family and your childhood, but I didn't know you were so inclined when it came to other kinds of love. That feature in a guy is so sweet. And these days it's rare to meet a human who is unselfish enough to live by the philosophy that what matters is what you leave for the living in this life.

BTW, I searched for a long time to find Hawaii 78, but I couldn't find it anywhere where I wouldn't be required to give my credit card information. After I saw how you posted a link to a song, it made me want to try it too. This technology is starting to seem more "intuitive" to me now, but that is also making me want to spend more time using it. Last night I had fun posting some songs and photographs I found on the web. Plus, I spent hours replacing and rearranging videos. Less than a month ago, I thought the only thing I'd miss about using a computer would be the new human connections I've made through it, but now I would miss the artistic side of it too.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Yes this computer stuff is addictive. I saw how you added the lyrics for the You Tube videos on your blog. Lot of work, lot of possibilities.

gabb said...

I would like to know if s.o has more artwork by Aldo. I love mother death!

Christopher C. NC said...

Gabb, last I heard it was down to the bare remnants of Aldos work in that cardboard box and they are in Michigan now.

Munoz said...


Thank you for your post. I just accidentally discovered your blog and learned about Aldo after all these years. I was deeply saddened by the news as I considered him one of my best friends in the seventies (I lost track of him after 1981), before he left for Tulane to study architecture in 78. He and I were classmates in Costa Rica (he was Peruvian, though he lived in Costa Rica, at least at the time). Seeing his drawings impacted me tremendously as I could recognize them and took me back to my teens. Do you know anyone else that knew him and was close to him while in New Orleans? I would value any way of learning more about his life after I lost contact with him. Thank you.



Munoz said...


I would value one or any of Aldo's drawings, if that were at all possible. They would mean the world to me.