Work in Progress: Barbara Miñarro

Barbara Miñarro is originally from Monterrey, Mexico, but the January Work in Progress (WIP) resident artist came to the United States at age 11. The first place she lived as a new American was McAllen, Texas, a border town that recently made the news for Trump’s visit during the government shutdown. Today Barbara lives in San Antonio, Texas, where her bicultural upbringing continues to inform her artwork. At present, she mainly works in fiber and creates large-scale installations and soft sculptures.

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“Art should pose questions and serve as a survey for contemporary times,” says Barbara when I ask her about how the country’s current political climate influences her creations. We are sitting in the WIP space at TAC Manhattan on a weekday evening. “My art is a process of understanding,” she adds. Barbara explains that growing up in a border town as a Mexican-American gave her a lot of shame. “So making art became a safe space.” She beams when she says that TAC is a safe space for her in this tense political moment. “I feel like I’m back in school.”

During her residency, Barbara spends most of her day at the studio. She’s staying at an Airbnb in Greenwich Village, where she starts the morning with breakfast and then walks to TAC. Everyday, she finds herself working on two or three projects at once, and incorporating reading and research into her schedule.  When I meet with her, it’s only her second time using a loom, but she feels inspired to practice.

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Barbara is using the WIP residency in part to prepare for her solo exhibition at South Texas College’s Library Art Gallery. The show is called “I Miss That Feeling” and speaks to the anxiety she feels under the Trump administration.

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“I miss when I didn’t have that anxiety,” she says. “After he was elected, there were nights when I couldn’t sleep.”

 

“I Miss That Feeling” delves into ideas about the body in migration and the memories that come from clothing when one’s home is constantly changing. When you step into the WIP space at TAC Manhattan, you will see the modified clothing Barbara has hanging in the windows and on the wall. The jeans and T-shirts with woven elements from other articles of clothing will go in “I Miss That Feeling” as an installation. The show will be on view from Feb. 5-25 and include a workshop and artist talk on the last day.

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Of course, before Barbara does her South Texas College workshop, she has her WIP workshop on Jan. 24 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.  (RSVP HERE!) She will be leading participants in a banner workshop using repurposed fabrics.  She will ask everyone to think of words related to current events and political issues and use those words to enliven their banners with soft letters.

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After Barbara’s WIP residency, she will return to San Antonio, where she maintains her studio in a converted firehouse with friends. Her WIP residency represents not only her first-ever artist residency, but also her first visit to New York City.

“Though I hope to come back soon,” she says. “I want to do more residencies. And New York is so international and the streets are always alive.”

We appreciate having Barbara in New York City and look forward to seeing the banners from her WIP workshop displayed in the TAC Manhattan windows.

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