MY LETTER TO THE WORLD. The Papers of Teresa Vallmajó. Sant Martirià 2023

Inauguration: Friday, 18th October 2024

A commentary on “Emily Dickinson”.

Works by Teresa which have never previously been exhibited, crayon drawings and monochromes, which are often preparatory studies for oil paintings, but which, little by little, have acquired their own personality and specific vocabulary. Her firm lines, practiced since her earliest youth, are developed lightly, sometimes dissolving until they leave hardly a trace on the white paper. 

“In her sheltered town of Amherst she seeks the reclusion of her home and within her home the reclusion of her white dress and that of not allowing herself to be seen by the few friends she received,” said Jose Luis Borges about one of the strangest and most emblematic artists in her world of the North American literary tradition. Emily Dickinson, in her necessary solitude, “like a loaded gun”, dangerously awaiting the arrival of the master to stroll in the woods (My life had stood – a Loaded Gun) would create an unequalled language, and beyond the legendary titles which would be bestowed on her posthumously and for the satisfaction of others, from Recluse Queen, to Great White Lady, or the Nun of Amherst, was a woman of an immense wealth of culture and profound thought, with a background of puritan culture, studies at Mount Holyoke and at the College founded by her own grandfather at Amherst, a woman who knew much of music and science, French, Latin and German and kept up an intellectually ambitious correspondence with the pastor Charles Wadsworth or the publisher T.W. Higginson. Emily Dickinson was above all a Volcano, “an old, phlegmatic mountain, often so calm, but bearing within an appalling Ordnance” (I have never seen “Volcanoes”), and whom thus we should not regard as the opposite pole to her contemporary Walt Whitman, but rather as a homonymous daughter of the same young country which she clutched to  herself, a creator as full of the need to live and as egocentric as the epic and exultant bard of New York. That “I’m nobody!” of a childhood bears the same weight of self-affirmation as The Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, except that it was written by a woman who could only choose between continuing to live in the same house where she had lived as a child, like a grownup child, or marrying and so losing the protection of a father who allowed her to write all though the night. Brave as she was, she chose to stay at home, and went on to become part of those creators who she herself called the “Barefoot Rank” (Letters, L265), and who, used to domestic economy, saving and efficient, only need a tiny pencil in their pinafore pocket and a few scraps of paper saved from the wastepaper basket to write a letter to the world (This is my letter to the world). That same order in which, willingly or unwillingly, Giorgio Morandi militates at Grizzana, behind the protecting wall of his three sisters... the same order where we find Teresa, in Banyoles, with her flowers and her simple objects piled in her same old studio, in Carrer Major, number 3.