Nicholas Scalise

Young Mexican Girl in the Yellow Dress and Little Hat  [Back]

On all of our family trips, my dad would take his trusted Nikon 35 mm camera. Early in the morning, before the rest of the family had risen, Dad would walk along the streets with his camera, clicking away at the pulsing vibrations of life all around. Whether we were in a small village in Mexico or a large city like Rome, the early morning activities of life captivated his interest. Using his keen eye he would capture the shopkeeper sweeping the entrance-way to her store or a group of older men drinking espresso at a cafe table on the street. These were the subjects of Dad’s paintings. Oftentimes, people were unaware he photographed them. Occasionally, when they noticed him with the camera, they stood attentively posing and encouraged him to take pictures.

I suspect the young compasina in the yellow dress with the little hat probably never had her picture taken before. Perhaps, she reminded my dad of his own young daughters. Perhaps, he wanted to capture the blessed innocence of childhood beaming through her slight frame. Here, she stands inquisitively looking at him.

I wonder what she thought of this American man. The novelty of the camera and this foreigner strolling around must have been quite curious. Maybe she wanted to follow that curiosity by engaging his attention so a connection might be made. A camera would have been an untenable luxury for those living in her village. In 1972, it surely was a relatively rare sight.


Did words exchange between artist and child? Or moments of complete non-verbal connection -- a smile at, a nodding of the head -- an intangible energy of goodwill exchanged between two strangers. Who can ever know what caused artist and little girl to stop and mutually acknowledge one another’s presence? Whatever it might have been, some forty years later, the young Mexican girl in the yellow dress and little hat, stands memorialized in this framed painting that hangs upon the wall of my home in New York.  

Rosann Scalise