Manchas

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50 Cotton napkins embroidered by me and dyed by Latina immigrants and their family members with huevos rancheros, salsa verde, fruit, blueberry pie, orange juice, and coffee.

In Spanish we often hear the phrase “vida manchada” (stained life) when referring to someone who has committed a crime. Filthy and unwanted, stains have negative associations.  I see similarities to the associations  placed on undocumented immigrants. Manchas (Stains) is an artist book made with embroidered cloth pages that carry evidence of marks made at the Soñé una Milpa party.  

In this work, the meaning of stains is transformed from something unwanted to a celebration of the valuable and resilient life journeys of Latina immigrants and their families. 

Like a simple tablecloth or napkin, relegated to the background during a meal, Latina women grow up in a “machista” culture feeling insignificant and devalued.  Dirty stains and labor intensive embroidery on a napkin question the value placed on objects, art, and on personal lived experiences. 

Photo credits: Aliza Rand

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This artwork is part of the Soñé una Milpa Project. Please visit our project website for more information and make sure to check out the Soñé una Milpa Party webpage to learn how these napkins were stained!