Wider Horizons

Gabriela Rodriguez has been drawing her whole life. After spending her childhood and teen years taking art Gabriela Rodriguezclasses and workshops in her hometown of Mexico City, Mexico, she went on to fine art school. In her career, she specialized in making murals, teaching art, and creating illustrations for about 10 children’s books, all while raising two sons as a single parent. Three years ago, after her sons had grown and moved away, Rodriguez met a new partner and she moved to Canada. Rodriguez attended English as a Second Language and General Studies classes at Lethbridge College for four semesters before transferring to the University of Lethbridge last fall. Her goal is to earn a Master’s degree in art therapy. This winter, she took some time away from her work in the 2-D drawing studio at CASA to talk to Wider Horizons about her art, her writing and her life in Lethbridge.

Wider Horizons: Tell us a little bit about your decision to move to Canada.

Gabriela Rodriguez: I was a single mom and all of my life was focused on my children. My boys were my life. But they grew up and moved on. I was in an empty nest and ready for adventure. This is a critical moment for many mothers. All my life I felt like I didn’t have time to study what I wanted. Now I do.

WH: What drew you to art therapy as a career?

GR: I love art. And there are many studies that show that art can heal people. Without art, our world would not be the same. There are many things to learn about behavior and how to help people through art. I would be able to work with adults and children, but I think I will especially enjoy working with children.

WH: You took ESL courses and then three semesters of psychology and General Studies courses at Lethbridge College. What was that experience like?

GR: I loved the time in the ESL program because I met people from Asia, Africa, Latin American and all around the world. And in all of my classes, the teachers were very friendly and took care of the students. There were so many ways you could get help. I was very happy to become a student again and for having the chance to be a part of the College’s General Studies program.

WH: You were born in Mexico City, a city of 20 million, and lived much of your life in Guadalajara, a city of five million. How have you adjusted to living in Lethbridge?

GR: I’ve lived in big cities and small towns and I love both, but prefer the quiet places. Lethbridge is a city, but not a big city, and it’s been a very good experience. And the coulees are so nice.

WH: You’ve illustrated about 10 children’s books and written a few of your own. What do you write about?

GR: Many of the books for younger children are about families and how children come from different families. Some have parents who are divorced, some have been orphaned and some are raised by their grandparents. For older children, I write about a fantasy dream world, but in the background, the books are dealing with social issues. In one story, a cloud follows a girl everywhere and she doesn’t know what to do. It is about depression. In the end, the girl realizes how she can take care of the cloud, how she can take advantage of it – that her cloud can water the trees and flowers, and be used to fill up a fish bowl. There are social implications in the story.

WH: Where do you work on your art these days?

GR: When I first moved to Lethbridge, I worked at home. About five months later, I discovered the Bowman and then CASA once it opened. I felt a very warm welcome from the community. You know that CASA means “home” in Spanish – and I feel that CASA is home for me and everyone is welcome here. I have been very happy working in the middle of the Lethbridge art community.

WH: Where can our readers go if they’d like to see more of your work?

GR: You can see some of my work at gabrielarodriguezquirartecv.blogspot.ca. I have also created a blog in English at yelowbaloon.blogspot.mx.

For more information about Lethbridge College’s ESL program, call 403-329-7223 or email esl@lethbridgecollege.ca. For information about the General Studies program, call 403-394-7338 or email generalstudies@lethbridgecollege.ca.

Wider Horizons
Lisa Kozleski
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