Women of Color Don't Receive Flowers

“De tempos em tempos analiso meus pensamentos e tento distinguir o que é problema social ou mera experiência pessoal. São muitos os exemplos que mostram que o racismo não é uma experiência vivida só por mim, mas também por várias das minhas manas. Essa é uma questão histórica.

I think from Lélia Gonzalez and her concept of Amefricanity, and I can still say that I am a mixed Brazilian, descendant of black people brought from Africa, indigenous owners of Pindorama lands and a few white people who settled here. Therefore, like most women who share these experiences, I have my ancestry erased by colonialism, without knowing who my ancestors are.

In the ongoing quest to understand where I am in the world, I often found myself alone, not knowing where to lean on or who to turn to. My experience in the world, as a woman who does not fit the whiteness pattern, was marked by loneliness and fear of rejection, not only in structural contexts, but also in interpersonal relations.

Ana Claudia Lemos Pacheco already contextualized these feelings in her thesis on the loneliness of women of color, which has a complex and multilayered concept, but which I summarize here as the idea that women of color, because of racism and because they are far from the ideal of beauty (European white), are passed over by white women and are often separated between work and sex. Finally, with the difficulty of establishing long-term affective relationships, they end up leading their families alone, without a partner to share the support.

Rejection and difficulty in dealing with affectivity are symptoms that make up the history of most Brazilian women of color. With so much historical need, the process of painting flowers reflects my tireless search for affection. This research talks about what belonging means for me and for those who, like me, feel the urge to break with colonial pacts. This is how begins the anti-racist series “Women of Color Don’t Get Flowers”, created by me and inspired by the text of the writer Gabriela Moura that went viral in 2019 on the internet.

During the pandemic, I isolated myself with some friends in their homes and was enchanted by the flower arrangements that adorned their houses. From that look, I revisited the memory and remembered when I spent my whole life believing that I was not worthy of receiving flowers, of experiencing this kind of affection.

I then began to fantasize that these flowers, which were already in their homes, were actually for me at the time of my visit. I started to collect memories of these flowers, creating paintings and naming them after the people who “gifted” me, each one unique, with their history and affection, in a fine line between fiction and reality. In a kind of self-referential delirium, I began to see special meaning in flowers that weren’t for me, until I found myself painting even the plastic ones.

Com o tempo, comecei a receber muitas flores, das mais diversas cores e tamanhos. Fui agraciada pelos presentes desses amigos que, num simples gesto de me enviar um buquê, conseguiram transformar o medo que eu sentia pela rejeição, criando em mim uma memória em que não cabe mais a solidão, mas sim a riqueza do afeto. São os meus amigos que me lembram que eu não só sou digna de receber flores, mas também de ser amada”.

Panmela Castro: Women of Color Don't Receive Flowers

Panmela Castro with the flowers received during the opening of the exhibition "To Flaunt is to be Alive", at Galeria Luisa Strina, in São Paulo.

Panmela Castro receives flowers from her guests at the opening of the exhibition "To Flaunt is to be Alive", at Galeria Luisa Strina, in São Paulo.

Panmela Castro receives flowers from her guests at the opening of the exhibition "To Flaunt is to be Alive", at Galeria Luisa Strina, in São Paulo.

Panmela Castro receives flowers from her guests at the opening of the exhibition "To Flaunt is to be Alive", at Galeria Luisa Strina, in São Paulo.

Panmela Castro receives flowers from her guests at the opening of the exhibition "To Flaunt is to be Alive", at Galeria Luisa Strina, in São Paulo.

“Women of Color Don’t Receive Flowers (Maybel Sulamita)”, oil on linen, 27 1/2 x 19 3/4 x 3 1/8, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

Painting of the work "Women of Color Don't Receive Flowers (Lula Buarque de Hollanda)", in the artist's former studio in Rio de Janeiro.

“Women of Color Don’t Receive Flowers (Lula Buarque de Hollanda)”, oil on linen, 31 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 1 5/8, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

"Women of Color Don't Receive Flowers (Carollina Lauriano)", oil on linen, 27 1/2 x 19 3/4 x 3 1/8 in, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

Painting of the work "Women of Color Don't Receive Flowers (Carollina Lauriano)", in the artist's studio in São Paulo.

“Women of Color Don’t Receive Flowers (Andrea Mannelli)”, oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 x 1 5/8 in, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

Painting of the work "Women of Color Don't Receive Flowers (Daniela)", in the artist's studio in São Paulo.

“Women of Color Don’t Receive Flowers (Daniela)”, oil on linen, 47 1/4 x 35 7/16 x 3 1/8 in, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

“Women of Color Don’t Receive Flowers (Ademar Marinho)”, oil on linen, 27 1/5 x 19 3/4 x 1 5/8 in, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

“Women of Color Don’t Receive Flowers (Carolina Pedrosa)”, oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 19 3/4 x 3 1/8, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

Painting of the work "Women of Color Don't Receive Flowers (Heloisa Buarque de Hollanda)", in the artist's former studio in Rio de Janeiro.

“Women of Color Don’t Receive Flowers (Heloísa Buarque de Hollanda)”, oil on linen, 27 1/2 x 19 3/4 x 3 1/8, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

“Women of Color Don’t Receive Flowers (Ademar Britto)”, oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 19 3/4 x 3 1/8 in, 2021. Image: Acervo Panmela Castro

Painting of the work "Women of Color Don't Receive Flowers (Paulo Herkenhoff)", in the artist's current studio in Rio de Janeiro.