My work shares an affinity with the colors and themes of the art of Oaxaca, Mexico—in fact Oaxacan paintings and folk art first inspired me to paint—so I dedicated September 2001-September 2002 to an independent study of painting in the city of Oaxaca. I drew upon the resources of the world-class art library there to improve my skills in drawing, design and understanding human anatomy, and took full advantage of Oaxaca’s myriad gallery & museum exhibits and cultural events to experiment in forms and materials and to take my skills to a whole new level.

In that year, I wrote what turned out to be a book-length email journal home to friends. It was a virtual paean to the richly textured culture of a community whose rhythms and values so dramatically contrasted with those of urban America, and which captured my heart entirely. The one resounding mystery to me was the workings of love. My limited experience with what I came to call Amor Mexicano, or Sex Mex, resulted in these paintings, and in the following excerpts from my Oaxaca Journal.

It seems unfair even to me to post only the Amor Mexicano story, which got scant space alongside many more in-depth entries extolling the honored roll of art and the artist in Mexican society, the gentility and neighborliness of the people, the hardships and simplicity of life in the poorest state in the country, and the varied and compelling cultural traditions and events. But that is indeed a whole book. So I chose to share the small portion of the Oaxaca Journal closely related to this body of work. I hope it will reflect some small measure of the affection I have for the place and its people, even as it details my utter “Gringa-ness” in the face of Sex Mex!

—Susan “Montana” Murdoch