With Tabitha Arnold and Margarita Cabrera
Thursday, August 25th | 6:00 PM
Continuing the celebration of our summer exhibition, Threading the Needle, The Church welcomes artists Tabitha Arnold and Margarita Cabrera. The two will converse about their careers, ideas, and works featured in the show. Both artists create moving, impactful and challenging work about difficult subjects. Politics have a central role in their work, lives and thinking.
In addition to her career as a visual artist specializing in textile and fiber-based art, Tabitha Arnold is a member of Philly Socialists and a labor organizer with Dignity. Using an ancient technique to present the pressing issues and questions of the present moment, Arnold’s textiles are populist and devotional, making scenes of collective outrage tangible and immediate. To her, fiber art can convey a sense of familiarity that allows disparate views to talk about inequality and the abuse of power in our society. This method was used by the Mexican muralists and Soviet mosaic artists and is seen in Afghan war rugs and quilts of Gee’s Bend. Drawing on these references, Arnold uses art as a call to arms and a vector of social change. Tabitha’s piece in the exhibition is a goat-hide shaped tapestry titled Pure Finder (2021). She created the work for the prayer room at Glen Foerd estate in Philadelphia, PA. It depicts workers engaged in the long, dirty, arduous process of refining leather at the Vic Kid Factory. From the late 1800s to early 1900s, the factory employed hundreds of people and founded the fortune of the Foerderer Family.
Born in Monterrey, a city in the Mexican state of Nuevo León, Margarita Cabrera moved to the US with her family at the age of 10. Cabrera’s soft sculptures often depict common appliances and goods to pay homage to the lives of Mexican laborers who work to create cheap products in factories on the US-Mexican border for the US market. Margarita Cabrera has three soft sculptures in the show: Nopal con Tunas #2, 2006, Space in Between – Nopal #6, 2012, and Space in Between – Saguaro (Maria Lopez), 2010. These are part of her on-going collaborative, social practice project with Spanish-speaking immigrant communities in the United States. The initiative promotes cultural dialogues around community, craft, immigration, cultural identity, and labor. Workshop participants work with Cabrera to produce sculptural replicas of desert plants indigenous to the Southwest. Made from US border-patrol uniforms, the sculptures are a stark reminder of the harrowing experiences and perilous journeys taken by Latin Americans crossing the border in the beautiful but dangerous landscape of the Southwest.