Codex Rodriguez – Mondragón prompts us to ask questions.

Why does the green of that cactus touch my soul? Why do those shades of pink remind me of my ancestors and of their toil over the earth in the old country? Why does the hue of that marigold remind me of the tenderness over skin I miss so much?

Sandy Rodriguez has answered a call from within to go out to our land and find the healing properties of plants, animals, and minerals that surround us and bring them back to us… to us on our paved streets, between our brick and wood buildings, the places where the natural healing at times can’t be heard. 

Stand in front of the pressed amate, made of mulberry and fig bark fibers. Your body knows these are not man-made colors.

Your eyes sing this poem:

She grinds stone 

so we can see the sky.

She boils leaves and petals, 

the colors 

our breath.

She walks among the pines 

and manzanita, 

two tone branches 

our arms,

that swat 

ghetto birds,



Codex Rodriguez-Mondragón heals. It helps heal the ruptures of 1492 and 1521.

The Florentine Codex is here, that document of enlightenment and conquest; its creation overseen by priests in the 1570s. The indigenous hands that lettered and drew those pages were already 50 years removed from a time before their temples were toppled, their writings were burned, their leaders killed. Those brown hands were free to write what they were told to write. That codex is our history yet we are somehow absent from it.

Sandy lives in the infinite space between their letters.  

Do you see the freckled, wavy haired woman in the panels on the right? The woman grinds color out of minerals, turns cactus bugs into screaming reds.

The lesson is that our founding documents are not static and limited. They have infinite space in which we can update the stories with our own. Go out, come back, and write and draw your own version.


Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

October 2017



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