AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN

I had originally intended to discuss the now ubiquitous Frieda Kahlo for my post on a Mexican artist. I find her fascinating, and feel that her personal story is pretty inspirational given her level of physical disability (something that I’m particularly interested in as I have a beautiful teenage daughter who is living with a disability). I went to see the Frieda Kahlo exhibition at London’s V&A museum in 2018, which focused not on her art, but on the objects that made up her life, and which was really interesting and largely escaped mawkishness. And her sense of personal style was amazing!

But, said teenage daughter had been set some lockdown art homework, which involved researching marginalised artists, and one of the artists on her list was a contemporary artist I had never come across before: Margarita Cabrera. So to H’s total disgust I inexplicably embarked on my own homework FOR FUN.

Cabrera was born in Mexico in 1973 and moved to the USA at the age of 10; she is now based in El Paso. Cabrera has been widely exhibited in the USA, and her work forms part of the permanent collection of over 20 museums. As well as creating individual projects, she also works collaboratively with displaced immigrants to create sewn, soft sculptures, representing everyday items such as backpacks, bikes, pot plants ordomestic appliances.

Her works document the obstacles, sacrifices and achievements experienced by migrants, focusing, in particular, on US-Mexican relations.

Her show A Space in Between has been shown at several US galleries, including the Talley Dunn Gallery. The exhibition featured sculptures of cacti created with fabric made from the uniforms of border patrol guards. Many of the collaborative works were decorated with traditional Mexican tenango embroidery by immigrant workers, depicting people and animals, and documenting individual experiences of crossing the border, while referencing Mexican craft traditions.  The terracotta pots in which the plants are displayed also allude to and make use of traditional Mexican materials.

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