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Erika DeFreitas

Published On


Page Range

pp. 39-50

Print Length

11 pages

2. Until I Hear from You

  • Erika DeFreitas (author)
In an artistic practice steeped in process, gesture, performance, and documentation, Canadian-born artist Erika DeFreitas generously mines her family archive of photographs and letters throughout her oeuvre. In her art essay, ‘Until I Hear from You,’ she turns to old letters and photos sent from Guyana to construct memories with a grandmother she’s never met and to piece together a motherland she’s never known. Her grandmother, a skilled baker in British Guiana in the 1950s, passed down the practice to DeFreitas’ mother who then migrated to Canada in 1970. In sharing her family album, DeFreitas illustrates how the act of passing on sacred crafts through two geographies and three generations of DeFreitas women has shaped her connection to Guyana. In her essay, she expands on how she uses cake icing—perfected so beautifully by her grandmother that she taught classes in cake décor to the women in her neighborhood—as an important symbol in her work as well as in her poetic language. The icing is both material and process—meant to decorate and to preserve. DeFreitas leaves us to ponder the question: Even when we commit to preserving a motherland’s memories, rites, and traditions, how do we navigate the inevitable loss that pervades?


Erika DeFreitas