My baby Aurora Annette died unexpectedly, three days after she and her identical twin sister were 2 months old. I alchemize my grief into colorful paintings, inspired by the Aurora Borealis. I dedicate all of my paintings to Aurora, and I process the complexities and layers of grief through my art.
My grief is intensified & compounded by my past trauma. For over 3 years, I struggled with infertility due to endometriosis stage 3. I had two invasive surgeries, 10 months apart. After which, I endured a cycle of in-vitro fertilization, leading to a high risk pregnancy & emergency c-section 7 weeks early. Because my babies were born premature, they stayed in the NICU for 1 month. After being home for a month, Aurora Annette didn't wake up and never would again. Her death was ruled as Sudden Unexplained Infant Death. My art has become the primary outlet for my grief and emotions in losing my baby so unexpectedly.
Here’s the crazy thing, doing IVF produced only ONE healthy, viable embryo. Then, a miracle happened, and our one, unicorn embryo split and I was pregnant with identical twins. Wtf is even the point of me having to go through ALL of that if one of my twins was going to die? It’s a complete mindfuck to birth two babies, but only raise one. My Aurora paintings are vibrant, layered, sparkly, however, each painting comes from a very dark place (hence my black canvas): unresolved, complex trauma I carry, an intentional contrast to the bright colors and the glitter. Seeing my Aurora paintings change and evolve is the closest I will ever be, in this lifetime, to watching Aurora grow up with her twin. I’m bringing her into the present by acknowledging her through my art, while also validating my difficult, years-long journey to motherhood.
Lastly, I know that I did not survive through all of the trauma and loss for nothing. I know that I am more than my grief and depression. I am an artist. My decades-long fear of fully embracing my true artist self and following my lifelong dreams of being a professional artist died when my daughter did.
Angelina Salgado is visual artist and art educator, based in NJ. The eldest daughter of Filipino immigrants, Angelina was born and raised in New York. She received her AAS in Fine Arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology, pursued a double major in Art History and Studio Art at Hunter College, then earned her Master’s degree in Art and Museum Education from the City College of New York. She has taught in several art museums and cultural institutions across NYC, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. She brought her eclectic experience in art and museum education to the elementary art classroom, first, at a charter school in Harlem, then two elementary public schools in Northern NJ. She continues to teach art, although no longer to small children. Angelina leads paint and puff classes with Garden State of Mind. She paints everyday and her artwork has been featured in gallery exhibitions in across New York City and northern New Jersey.