Human Geographer Fabrizio Eva comments, in the documentary film The Possibility of Hope (companion piece to the theatrical release Children of Men) that “‘one of the primary characteristics of human beings is that they have always moved.’” Homeless artist Darcy DeSouza embodies that human trait in both physicality and imagination. For the past fifty years she has traveled the globe so extensively that, with a map before her, it is quicker for her to pinpoint the places she has not visited. Yet.
In her art and voice, one seems to catch vestiges of Italy, Morocco, Great Britain, Portugal, Germany, Monaco, Belgium, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Tunisia, and Greece, along with her native Brazil. She states that every year since she was twenty-seven she has traveled “two months for study and one month for joy.” In her early career she owned a spa and attended symposiums in cities around the world to further her acumen in the field. She then parlayed these skills in the dramatic arts; as make-up artist, body painter, and costume designer for theatrical productions–including Carnival in Brazil, and work with the prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Ballet in New York City. She remembers Spain and France most fondly, in part for the influence of a favorite professor, Jean Diestrees, who possessed ‘beautiful imagination,’ and ‘always brought new things for to discover’. She has earned twenty-seven diplomas, and works just as naturally in a diverse array of medias.
Like the papillions she often paints or prints on shirts, she is a true social butterfly, and speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and some French and English. She perseveres even when there is a language gap between herself and a listener, continuing to talk expressively, in an endearing search for the spark of commonality. Many who have met her call her Mammy, and greet her with kisses, even after only days’ separation.
I have had the pleasure of creating art seated across from her doing the same. Frequently she will, much like Bugs Bunny in the haunted house episode, fall in and out of song, whistling or hum—culled of harmonies from around the world. While her brush paints pictures, her luminous crooning transforms a room. I call these tableaus Darcy’s ‘table arias’. She says that the same way she loves the melody and lyrics in music is how she loves the colors in visual art. I imagine her voice to be flavored by all her travels; no matter the subject, it sounds exotic, full of wonder and possibility. Once I heard her give tell of a shelter happenstance for which the police & fire departments were summoned, she imparted: “ey, des saints have the bomb call’; it sounded like New Years day rolled in honey and cinnamon.
She continues to do make-up artistry, as well as fiber designs—her butterfly series is often sold out. Other recent projects include pottery for the Women’s Lunch Place auction, and a series of multiple miniature paintings that each, with particular unison placement, tells a story.