Daughters Of The Border

Fiber artists Sarita Westrup and Analise Minjarez are working to change perspectives about the border region through art and arts education.

By Hady MawajdehJuly 28, 2017 7:24 am

From KERA:

Drugs, immigration and gangs – that’s all we seem to hear about from the Texas-Mexico border. A couple of north Texas artists are hoping to change that though. We looked into how these two young women plan to use indigenous art to change perspectives.

Naturally dyed cloth, woven nets, cactus skeletons, and hog guts. Those are just a few of materials that fiber artists Sarita Westrup and Analise Minjarez work with. They create stone-simple, hand-woven sculptures and installations inspired by that region.

“We are very interested in minimalism,” says Westrup. “And we think a lot about ideas of landscape, identity and bi-cultural aesthetics on the border.”

Westrup, who is 27 years old , lives in Oak Cliff. She and Minjarez have been creative partners for three years. They create work that pushes against expectations of art from the borderland. She says they don’t want to be told what is or isn’t Chicana art.

“We work to provide something that you didn’t notice about that area. We’re trying to show this nuance, this layered idea of what a Mexican-American region can be like,” she says.

Together Westrup and Minjarez work under the moniker Tierra Firme, which translates as ‘solid ground.’

Hady Mawajdeh

Land Loom woven landscapes tapestry

The pair has woven tapestries made from donated National Park uniforms. Tapestries featuring landscapes from West Texas. They’ve produced map-like installations of the land along the Rio Grande using spices, dirt, rocks and macramé. Most recently, they’ve fabricated artificial portals that audiences walk through. The portals recreate a migrant’s path to America.

Minjarez, who lives in Denton, says there’re more to life on the border than narcos and the wall.

“We’re also very interested in celebrating this region. For us it’s not a negative. It’s more than a positive. It gives you an experience where your perspective is wide,” she says.

Minjarez is from El Paso, Westrup’s from the other end of the border (nearly 800 miles away) in McAllen. Geographically the cities are vastly different. El Paso’s an arid desert with mountains. McAllen…not so much.

“We have palm tree oases mixed with cactus, mixed with bougainvilleas, plumerias – so there’s this like tropical colors and flowers right next to desert,” says Westrup.

One of the things these communities share with the artists they’ve bred is a dual identity. They are Mexican and American. Minjarez says that duality is key to their art.

“We like to have two perspectives in Tierra Firme because we are showcasing a perspective that’s shared of the border region,” Minjarez  explains. “It’s not just my border or Sara’s border.”

They understand their individual perspectives doesn’t represent the masses.

“There are a lot of different types of Mexicans. Lots of different types of Mexican-Americans. What looks authentic to one could not be authentic to somebody else. Cause each person’s household or each person’s experience is different. As we work we keep that in mind,” says Westrup.

Read more, including an interview with Minjarez and Westrup.