La Sirena by Melissa Hunter Gurney and Zhenya Bernadskaya

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La Sirena: A collection of words and photos

July 7th – September 29th, 2014

Opening Reception July 7th, 7pm – 10pm

Lucky Luna Restaurant and Bar, 167 Nassau Ave., BK 11222

La Abuela was magnificently named. In many cultures the only women who aren’t identified as gifts of sensual pleasure and desire are the old ones, the ones who are no longer pleasing to the eye. Because of fallen skin covering once lush curves they resemble dried up flowers and no longer arouse us. We don’t want to smell the soft necks of wilted tulips or run our fingers over crispy hydrangeas – nothing about a wilted, dried up flower appeals to the senses but we still respect these flowers because they remind us of certain truths – their age and lack of moisture tells a story of a moment or an emotion we were unable to express.

La Abuela was different, she was an enigma, she was given the name “The Grandmother” inciting the idea that she was more than the wise, wilted, orchid storyteller but she was all the wise, wilted, orchid storyteller’s: the bird of paradise, the bougainvillea, the daffodil, the rose and the peony. She was given this name before her skin fell, before her hair greyed and before her walk lost the same flavor as her eyes – the flavor of desire, passion and the hunt. Men treated her as if she birthed them, pausing in her presence to ponder the confusion of lust and maternal love.

La Abuela was granted a passage in-between worlds.

La Abuela spoke to her sisters in metaphors and made the English language sound like a poem.

“You are 100 petals without a stem to hold you, without soil to keep you in place. The wind divides you and the sun changes the color of your complexion giving you a different name each day: begonia, carmelitilla, aguilena.” She whispered their names softly paying homage to a goddess.

“First you must trust the people. Their lives and their places will bring you pedals again. Then, you will go in search of a stem – you only find a stem by looking mi hermana.”  When she called me her sister I felt the pleasure of a little girl with fruit dripping from her mouth and hands.

“In some countries a woman who rebels is referred to as La Puta, in other countries she is called La Sirena – an individual, a rebel who cannot be chained by the shackles of tradition.”

“Do not misunderstand mi hermana. Not every woman is granted the freedom to use her talent as she pleases. A man knows a woman who chooses frivolity and insecurity over intellectuality and confidence – only one is called La Sirena because she is other worldly, a temptress made to breath in two lands – the air of tradition and the water of the wild. Every woman must know who they are before entering into a life of lust because if she is merely human she will be spit on for the choices she makes.” 
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Melissa Hunter Gurney is an independent writer and the founder of GAMBA Zine – a literary magazine dedicated to art and rooted in passion and thoughtfulness without the politics of publication. She is connected to the artist life as seen throughout South America and writes for La Gente Descalza (The Barefoot People).  You can follow M.H. Gurney’s work at and


Zhenya Bernadskaya is a Brooklyn based photographer from Ukraine. Zhenya combines her background as an Occupational Therapist, working with children, with her passion for photography and travel. She spends her time wandering the streets of NYC and beyond with her camera. Most of the images from this exhibition are from her travels in South America. You can follow Zhenya’s current work at

Please join us at Lucky Luna (167 Nassau Ave., BK) on July 7th, 7 – 10pm, for the opening reception and artist salon where Melissa and Zhenya will be accompanied by other local artists sharing their work over wine and cocktails!


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