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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Grief and Becoming Tapatio: Day 2

Tapatio: Day 2: Riley in unfinished sombrero
As the second anniversary of Riley's death approached in October 2016, I felt the need to take his love of hot sauce and somehow make him part of it. On his bedroom door, I transformed his name into his favorite Green Tabasco. From there, we carted his bedroom door to school and his classmates put their handprints on his door. We then put his bedroom door back in place. So now his Tabasco name and all of those classmates' handprints hang in the upstairs hallway.

On the third anniversary, I transformed Riley's name into a Cholula hot sauce bottle. I replaced the woman on the bottle with Riley's likeness. It was the first time I painted him. It was terrifying because it felt that so much was at stake. It felt like final product would be a direct representation of how much I love him. When it was done, I loved it, although the general consensus was that I had painted a 20-something-year-old version of him. 

And I've started again. This time it's transforming him into a Tapatio hot sauce bottle. This is how he looks on Day 2 -- his 11-year-old likeness in an unfinished sombrero. I wish I'd been documenting the progress of these painting projects from the start. Earlier today, for example, Riley's mouth in this painting was lower. I wasn't sure if I should move it. After talking to his brother and grandmother, I moved it up about a centimeter. And when I stepped back, I couldn't believe how much it looks like him. It was a good decision. I stared into his eyes all afternoon. #HotSauceRiley

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