Sandra Mayo


Lexington Artist Shows Connections of Family, Stories

By Martha Crosier Wood


Sandra Mayo’s art depicts family relationships using patterns and materials found in nature. In one series she uses trees whose slender trunks are composed of small, colorful symbolic pictures representing family members lives and how they tie to other family members.

In another, she uses actual genogram symbols mixed with human figures. (Genograms are can be used to map relationships within a family by medical personnel, therapists and others -- and for Mayo to create intriguing art.)

Mayo is one of 54 artists local artists exhibiting during Lexington Open Studios Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in their home studios, at Lexington Arts and Crafts Society, Munroe Center for the Arts or, in Mayo’s case, at the Blink Gallery, 1963 Massachusetts Ave.

Open Studios offers an opportunity to talk to the artists, see demonstrations and view the art forms that interest you at your own pace. And it’s free.

Mayo likes to explore using different mediums -- watercolors, collage, encaustic (wax), printmaking and wood, reusing bits from one piece in a new ones. “Printmaking and collage allow me to articulate a feeling of calmness, peace and serenity through texture, character and revelation,” she comments on her website.

“Family is a topic to which everyone is inescapably and profoundly attached,” Mayo writes. “We are all formed and influenced by the experiences of family relationships, their absence or presence, their quality and context. We all belong to a family and thus we are part of a structure bigger than ourselves. But what is our individual role in that structure? ... I can’t help it, I’m an educator by training. I want people to look and be curious about their families. There are so many layers in our families.”

And she loves to tell stories -- especially family stories. She donated funds to plant trees near Lincoln field, each in honor of a family member. When she walked her children to school, she would stop at one and tell her children the story of that person. (Her children are Ian Polakiewicz, a Yale University freshman, and Emil Polakiewicz, a high school sophomore.)

“My husband, Roberto Polakiewicz, and I are originally from Argentina, we studied in Israel before coming to Boston where we finished graduate school,” Mayo related. “We actually met on a plane from Madrid to Tel Aviv, then discovered we lived only 10 blocks apart in Argentina.”

The family speaks Spanish at home and when her children were small and their friends came to play, Mayo would teach them a bit of Spanish as well.

The family has lived in Lexington 13 years and Mayo was very active in Bridge Elementary School.

“I started the Green movement at Bridge school. I called it Eco-Bridge. We organized a recycling and composting program that spread to other elementary schools and Clarke Middle. I also was part of the Walk to School Campaign, volunteered for the Big Back Yard and, of course, participated in the International Festival which I hear is still a big deal at Bridge. I used to dress as a Paisana (typical Argentinean dress) and even did a tango presentation once,” she continued.

“As I said, I was very involved in recycling, composting and reducing trash in our schools. I also participated in the town efforts. I was invited to be part of committees for the town environmental services helping the trash collection program, exploring ways to replace the Styrofoam trays for school lunches among other things,” she said.

“A favorite activity is walking through Lexington. My husband and I have a date every Sunday morning. We walk for a couple of hours on one of the ACROSS Lexington paths. In the summer we do the same at Crane Beach in the North Shore,” she commented.

But art continues as a central focus of her life. One of her paintings was selected as the cover art for the book “The Constellation Approached: Finding Peach Through Your Family Lineage” by Jamy and Peter Faust. The Monotype Guild of New England selected another piece (there had been 650 entries) for its exhibit April 6 to May 7 at the Attleboro Arts Museum.

sandra mayo