CLINTON—The Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College presents Margarita Cabrera: Space in Between, featuring sculptures that examine the relationship between the U.S. and Latin America through the stories of immigrants. Cabrera’s choice for the exhibition title is inspired by the term Nepantla, a Nahuatl Aztec concept referencing “the space in the middle” as it relates to marginalized cultures and their resistance strategies for survival. The exhibition is on view from February 10 through June 10, 2018.
The works on view—some 25 fabric sculptures that resemble desert plants indigenous to the Southwestern United States—result from a social practice collaboration between immigrants to the United States from Mexico and Central America and Cabrera. The works are made using traditional sewing and embroidery techniques from Los Tenangos, Hidalgo, Mexico, which employ colorful narrative traditions that reflect popular culture, traditional rituals, and myths of the Otomi indigenous communities. Made from border-patrol uniforms, the works are fabric forms that incorporate stories, stitched into the material itself, of the personal experiences of Latin Americans crossing the U.S. border.
“With these works, we have created art pieces that serve as cultural and historical artifacts that value and document the experiences, struggles, and achievements of those who have found their way, often through migration and exceptional sacrifice, to new places where they now work to contribute meaningfully within their communities,” explains Margarita Cabrera.
Tracy L. Adler, Johnson-Pote Director of the Wellin, who organized the exhibition, notes, “With this exhibition, we hope to share the complexities of issues that are very much in the news. Artists are on the forefront of interpreting and responding to current events in real time and here Cabrera has personalized a subject that is close to her as a Mexican-American artist. We often think of these issues without consideration of the people who are impacted directly, so these sculptures—which are clearly handmade and made by many different hands—bring forward personal and individual perspectives that help humanize the issue. The works on view touch on many subjects—social, cultural, and historical—and act as a catalyst for dialogues across disciplines here at Hamilton College.”
A collaboration between artist Margarita Cabrera, the Arizona State University Art Museum, and the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, Space in Between is a continuation of Cabrera’s ongoing work with Spanish-speaking immigrant communities in the United States, centered on the promotion of cultural dialogues around community, craft, immigration, cultural identity, and labor, through art.
Space in Between was first presented as a workshop in early 2010 at BOX 13 ArtSpace in Houston, Texas, and select works are currently on view as part of Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, the fourth iteration of New Orleans’ citywide triennial of contemporary art. Participants in the workshop were immigrants to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America, who produced numerous sculptural replicas of desert plants indigenous to the Southwestern United States. Subsequent workshops took place in Charlotte, North Carolina as part of The Knight Artist-in-Residence at the McColl Center for Visual Arts; at Santa Fe Art Institute, New Mexico; and in Phoenix, Arizona at Combine Studio, in collaboration with Arizona State University and Desert Botanical Gardens.
The exhibition will be on view simultaneously with This Place, which explores the contested spaces of Israel and the West Bank through the eyes of 12 acclaimed photographers from around the world.