Whose House? Luna’s House

When artist Luna Galdames first came up with the idea for The Dream Room Project, her idea was simple: to go into the homes of children who have experienced trauma and give them the bedroom of their dreams. But she says both the charity, and her reasons for doing the work she does, have changed over the years.

“In the beginning, I had my own ideas of what these kids were going to look like and what they were struggling with,” Galdames says. “I came from Chile, and then Argentina, after two separate coups. Then we came to Canada. Nobody wants us here. More crisis. And then, growing up in what people called ‘Jig Town,’ there was violence in the community and school. So I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got this.’ But it’s not like that at all.”

Galdames says that maintaining success in her work has meant broadening her understanding of “trauma” and “crisis” to better understand the children and families she works with.

“I don’t define ‘traumatic,’” Galdames says. “I let the kids define it. It’s children who have been traumatized, seriously injured, diagnosed with an illness, been bullied or had any other sort of crisis.”

Galdames says the aesthetic of her home is a cultural interplay between herself and her partner, artist Daniel Dueck.

“He’s a good Christian Mennonite boy who grew up in the Canadian prairies. He’s all sterile, cool, clean lines. And then you have an Andean, who’s now living displaced, trying to preserve as much as (I) can about my culture, so it’s loud and colourful. So the house is a reflection of that.”

1) Bedroom “I call it the Dirty Room, because this (is) where my partner puts his dirty artwork. We actually had more of it, but my niece comes in every once in a while, so I told him he had to take down the penis with the dollar bill inside.”

2) Bathroom prints “Our bathroom is the only part of the house that has prints. Everything else is all original artwork, but this is where we put our prints because, obviously, this is a bathroom. These are Jean-Michel Basquiat prints.”

3) Dining room chalkboard wall “I’m really proud of my chalkboard. I’m a little ashamed that there isn’t more artwork today. Usually I go crazy. I love it because it’s not permanent. With two artists in the house,
there’s always fresh art here.”

4) Devotional corner “Religion is a huge part of Latin American culture. There’s always a duality at play between Catholicism and Indigenous spirituality. Usually we’ll talk about saints and death in the same breath. I don’t identify as one faith or the other. I just know there’s always that constant fight.”

5) “Little” section “I love things that are little. I have little axes, little shopping carts, little chairs, and then I keep little trinkets of home close to me, so that I’m always looking at it. A lot of these are by Monica Martinez. She’s a Chilean ceramic artist, and I think she’s one of the best things to come out of the University of Manitoba arts program. So she did these little figurines and this traditional Chilean pottery. And then there’s the llama. You’ve gotta have a llama.”

Published in Volume 71, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 9, 2017)

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