My mother, Dominga, emigrated along with her family to Oberlin, OH in the 1930s from Oaxaca, Mexico. My grandfather, Antonio, worked in the steel mills and my grandmother, Cecilia, a Huichol woman, was a seamstress and embroiderer. My grandfather spoke Zapotec, Spanish, and English fluently and my grandmother spoke Spanish and Huichol. Through the facilitation of the Catholic Church my grandparents, my mother and only five of ten siblings obtained US citizenship. Sadly, my grandmother died 5 years after arriving to the USA. This led to the entire family separating from one another. The youngest children, including my mother, were sent off to orphanages and the older children returned to Mexico. The only sibling my mother stayed in contact with was her younger sister Maria, as she was adopted by a local family. All the other siblings were adopted out of state or in Mexico.
Although my mother was in the orphanage, my grandfather visited her and stayed in contact with her until he tragically died from a car accident. He never drove a car so he would walk many miles along the side of the road to and from work. One day a car struck him and killed him. My mother had just turned 18 years old and was of the age to leave the orphanage to finally live with him again. Her dream to return to her father was lost.
After her father’s death, Dominga left Oberlin and moved to Cleveland, OH where she attended the Cooper School of Arts. She ended up making Cleveland her hometown. After college, she worked at General Electric making light bulbs. The embroidery skills she had learned from her mother translated well to meticulously making light bulbs. She continued to paint and enter art exhibitions throughout the region. The art of making light bulbs was magical for Dominga as she was able to illuminate the homes of others. According to Dominga "hogar es la familia", home is family.