Art review: Margarita Cabrera at Walter Maciel Gallery
Drawing on strands of several recent projects, Margarita Cabrera’s third solo show at Walter Maciel Gallery offers the most comprehensive glimpse yet of the El Paso-based artist’s impressively ambitious enterprise, an astute amalgamation of conceptual art, craft and political activism.
The show includes a number of works produced in recent years in the collaborative workshops that are her modus operandi, involving volunteers from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border: sculptures involving the tools of farm workers, beautifully adorned with ceramic flowers and butterflies; a stuffed cactus made from border patrol uniforms; a flock of 500 life-size Monarch butterflies — a species whose annual migration stretches from Canada to Mexico — made from copper using traditional Mexican techniques and stamped with images of the American penny.
What’s new is the introduction — by way of a taco cart stocked with items of Michoacán copper work, all for sale at reasonable prices (with proceeds returning to the craftsmen) — of Florezca Inc., a functioning, for-profit, multinational corporation, founded by Cabrera, that will serve as a kind of umbrella organization for future collaborative projects. It is a brilliant stroke of critical pragmatism: a mechanism to facilitate the production of art on a community scale while conceptually addressing issues of globalism, labor practices, corporate legality and immigration, as well as allowing Cabrera, who herself immigrated from Monterrey, Mexico, as a child, to formally designate her collaborators as shareholders, thereby conferring upon them the profits of their labors and granting “members of the Spanish-speaking immigrant community in the U.S., the same rights and protection accorded to the shareholders and employees of other multinational concerns.”
-- Holly Myers
Walter Maciel Gallery, 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 839-1840. Ends Oct. 22. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.waltermacielgallery.com
Above: Margarita Cabrera's "Craft of Resistance." Credit: Courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery