ODE TO LOVE AND CARE-GIVING:
An Art Installation at El Sacrificio, Mexico
By Wendy Jane Carrel, M.A., End-of-Life Planner
It is a notable synchronicity that “Transcendence – A Celebration of Those with Perseverance”, a medical art installation created by LK Gubelman (Leslie Katheryn aka Kate), is located in El Sacrificio (the Sacrifice), Jalisco, Mexico.
Gubelman, an architect by profession, was caregiver to her retired and ill parents (mom Canadian, dad American) over the course of eight years at Lake Chapala, Mexico. Her creation is based on what she witnessed as she put her life aside to assist and honor her father and mother. The installation is also, she might share with you, how she has been meeting her sadness and grief. The art has been her therapy.
The Transcendence exhibit in El Sacrificio (25-45 minutes from the lake, depending on who is driving) is located inside a stone warehouse at “Los Conos,” a property with two cone-shaped granaries; the warehouse continues to serve as art studio. Once you enter the studio you cannot help but notice what is before you – six large scale works that required several years to complete (2013-2015) with the assistance of four men.
What will you see?
Depending on your own interpretation, the exhibit offers a way to reflect on care-giving, love, life and death, healthcare, and medical interventions.
The largest of the pieces – THRESHOLDS – UMBRALES – is what you notice first. From the entrance, it resembles a beautiful stained glass window. Up close you see a symbolic body surrounded and connected by IV bottles filled with bright-colored water through plastic tubing. According to the artist, this piece is about time passing; each frame telling a tale of care given and the will to persevere. The IV bottles are those actually used by Gubelman’s mother during the last eight months of her life.
ENTANGLEMENT – ENREDO is a lattice work of medications, pills and pill boxes hung from the ceiling in suspended form, dazzling with crystal and beads linking one to another like Christmas decorations. Standing under it you cannot help but notice the enormity of drugs consumed and what was required by caregiver Gubelman for medication management.
TRANSPARENCY – TRANSPARENCIA is a corridor of x-ray images, CT scans, MRIs mounted on translucent multi-colored panels described best by a fan as “a tunnel of muted light and color…and a tale of medical machinery (cold steel) and the toll on all involved.” The names of Gubelman’s parents, Allison and Oscar, are on the panels.
IMMUNITY – INMUNIDAD Gubelman, who has lived in Mexico many years, is fascinated by folk traditions, especially “Voladores de Papantla” performed in public venues. (Four men are suspended by rope from a very small pole, upside down). Her Immunity piece features an upside down figure representing a bird in flight, a symbol of freedom. It also represents the second interpretation of the Voladores – a plea for rain followed by the hope for renewal and vitality.
PRISM – PRISMA Shiny multi-colored beads strung together inviting entry into an airy tent-like environment full of blister packs, candy-colored seed beads and pill boxes form the Prism exhibit. The display represents 4,961 pills consumed by Gubelman’s parents during their illnesses.
GAUNTLET – ACEPTOR EL GUATE Gauntlet was the first piece Gubelman visualized as she looked for a way to express the roller coaster of daily family emotions. The roles of caregiver, and daughter, patient and parent were often blurred and tested. They all knew they had signed on for difficult times.
Note: Gubelman, who is shy in nature, somehow felt compelled to collect all the pill boxes, IV bottles, medical records, x-rays, and other mementos as a way to keep her parents close. Little did she know that the items would be the basis of her art work as well as part of her healing process.
What might you discover or experience? You may instantly relate to Gubelman’s Transcendence installation, or not. According to Gubelman there are a variety of responses. Many visitors, both gringo and Mexican have felt either saddened or amazed. Many find deep meaning, especially recent widows and widowers who have been caregivers themselves. The exhibit has been called thought-provoking, emotional, captivating, impressive, astonishing, and a source of inspiration for healing from loss. It has also been called a commentary on modern medicine. At minimum, you may feel sacrifice and perseverance were involved not only for Gubelman, but for her parents. The experience that all submitted to required acts of love. No matter your read, it is an immersive art experience worth seeing if the subject speaks to you.
A video of the art installation with visitor comments was produced by Bradley Gaurano of www.videoparami.com . It may be found on this link: https://goo.gl/SK2XFm
Who might wish to see the exhibit Transcendence? Caregivers, healthcare workers, perhaps those mourning the loss of loved ones, and of course, the general public.
For more information or to schedule a private studio tour, please contact Bethany Anne Putnam at
You may discover more on the LK Gubelman Facebook page, or find other photos of the exhibit on Instagram@ lkgubelman
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com