It is Impossible to Cover the Sun with a Finger
“Es Imposible Tapar el Sol con un Dedo,” translates to “It is Impossible to Cover the Sun with a Finger.” The saying is a common metaphor within Latin American communities, used to show how reality can only partially be disguised. In other words, one can block the sun with his or her finger, but it will continue to shine. This survey exhibition highlights Cabrera’s ongoing exploration of sociopolitical issues such as migration, labor practices, and economic empowerment. As an immigrant from Mexico, Cabrera’s work conceptually and formally considers the impact of border politics.
The sculptural replicas of desert plants are a part of an ongoing series titled Space in Between, a collaborative project between Cabrera and immigrant communities. The species of cacti represented by the soft sculptures are indigenous to border states in the Southwest United States; the sculptures are formed from border patrol uniforms found in El Paso flea markets. Workshop participants used traditional Mexican embroidery techniques to share their own border-crossing narratives. The iconography and images stitched into the material recount individual tales of success, perseverance, tragedy, and heartbreak. This installation of the cacti sculptures creates a landscape for visitors to walk through, emulating the journey and scenery experienced by the immigrants who created the works.
Also on view is a new series of prints created in 2018 that recycle symbols used throughout the artist’s career. Butterflies, pennies, and cacti are all utilized to represent the relationship between Latin American production and American consumption. The sacrifice of Mexican culture in the name of American consumerism is a constant theme in Cabrera’s work.
Presented in a factory-turned-museum located in a border state, this exhibition positions the artist’s oeuvre as an aesthetic platform for transforming contemporary issues into humanized, universal narratives: safety, power, belonging. Cabrera’s promotion of cross-cultural exchange allows for multiple perspectives to be heard and illustrates the importance of seeing in the round.
Margarita Cabrera was born in Monterrey, Mexico. She received her MFA from Hunter College in New York City in 2001. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the El Museo del Barrio in New York, and the McNay Museum in San Antonio, among others. Cabrera was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2007. She is presently working on a public art commission in San Antonio, Texas. The artist lives and works in El Paso, Texas.
Curated by Emily Edwards, Curatorial Assistant