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I haven’t stop thinking about 94-year-old Carmen Herrera ever since I read about her in The New York Times. Her story is such a shot of inspiration that I just have to write about it here.

The story goes that Carmen has a deep love for painting.  It was a compulsion, something she simply couldn’t stop doing.  She started painting back in the 1930s, when she was in her ’20s.  Her paintings focused mostly on geometrical shapes and lines, forms and colors, and were considered  “ahead of her time.”

Rondo (Blue and Yellow)

Carmen Herrera's Painting, Image by cliff1066 via Flickr

Carmen was born in Cuba, lived in New York and Paris and eventually settled in New York.   Through the years, she labored quietly and produced a huge quantity of paintings.  But it was many, many years later, at age 89, that she sold her very first painting.  Today, her art is in in high demand and a recent painting sold at a whopping $44,000!

Now, at age 94, while homebound, resigned to a wheel-chair and afflicted with arthritis, she receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Walker Art Center.  The New York Times story quoted several people on her late-life success:

To bloom into full glory at 94 — whatever Carmen Herrera’s slow rise might say about the difficulties of being a woman artist, an immigrant artist or an artist ahead of her time, it is clearly a story of personal strength,” Mr. Zugazagoitia said.

We have a saying in Puerto Rico,” he said. “The bus — la guagua — always comes for those who wait.”   This came from her good friend Tony Bechara.

Indeed, the bus did come for Carmen and she is now basking in her success.  Reading Carmen’s story teaches me one thing:   If you have a passion, keep at it, keep at it, keep at it.  I’m willing to bet that even if Carmen didn’t receive the recognition she recently received, she will still paint, paint and paint and love, love and love it!

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