Paintings > Plantcestors

Cenizo, Juniper leaves and berries, Copal, resin, and oil paint on panel
30" x 24"

Vanessa Quezada:
“It’s a lifelong process to come into alignment and integrity with the Earth. Three plants in particular that have helped me are cenizo to align with the times of the Earth, juniper to align with place (Yanaguana/central Tejas), and copal to align with the strength of the Earth.

Cenizo, Leucophyllum frutescens, also known as Texas Sage, upon first glance doesn’t seem like anything special—she camouflages into the south Texas and desert brush. Incredibly resilient, she stays “under the radar” until sharing her exciting news that the rains are coming through a full purple bloom. Resilience also has its brilliance. Cenizo says, “Pay attention.” She has helped me orient back to the times of the earth and listen deeper into her avisos (notices).

I started working with Juniper Ashe, Juniperus ashei, to connect to place and work with medicine in my homeland. Juniper Ashe trees have existed in central/west Texas and into México for thousands of years. Juniper provides food and shelter to deer, birds, coyotes, quail, and javelina. As a traditional food, Juniper berries bring that medicine of bitterness back into our flavor palate. As an evergreen, this tree brings endurance and when you burn the dry leaves, they almost seem to jump, which reminds me to be playful, stay grounded, and move slowly.

Elders have shared the copal as the “tears of the tree.” Used as an offering for thousands of years, copal connects us through our sense of smell to the timeless memory of our ancestors performing rituals. For me, when I was running thousands of miles with the Peace and Dignity Journey and felt like I couldn’t run anymore, I would get a small piece of copal and rub it near my nose as a source of sweet strength to carry me through when my body felt like it couldn’t continue. This connection inspired me to make copal oil to help us have “resets” throughout our day for protection, cleansing, and sweet strength. <3”