Critics’ Picks

View of "Margarita Cabrera: It is Impossible to Cover the Sun with a Finger,” 2019.

View of "Margarita Cabrera: It is Impossible to Cover the Sun with a Finger,” 2019.


Margarita Cabrera

Dallas Contemporary
161 Glass Street
January 27–March 17, 2019

Political art can be didactic to a fault. Margarita Cabrera’s exhibition “It Is Impossible to Cover the Sun with a Finger” overtly expresses the artist’s indignation about societal ills but avoids the pitfalls and limitations of art made solely as agitprop. In her expanding series of soft army-green sculptures of desert plants, “Space in Between,” 2010–, Cabrera collaborates with immigrants who have crossed the US-Mexico border. Her volunteers embroider their stories—encapsulated in family names, home countries, dreams for the future, and flags of Mexico and the United States—onto repurposed border patrol uniforms. The artist then fits the cloth over wire armatures in the shapes of Yucca, Agave, Nopalea, and other plants. Reading these individuals’ desires, woven with colorful thread into in a material symbol of the power of the United States, the viewer is compelled to reflect on the thoughts and motives of those driven to make the dangerous and uncertain journey. Cabrera humanizes an issue that is too easily depersonalized in our fractious political climate.

In What Lies Between Earth and Sky, 2019, Cabrera attached dozens of bright blue plastic buckets above wooden broom and mop handles mounted horizontally on the wall, forming one large rectangle. The impression is one of a panoramic horizon. This simple but visually arresting assemblage is at once a nod to the border’s desert landscape and a monument to the economies of immigrant labor. Cabrera’s thoughtful probing of the human impact of immigration is unmistakably partisan; her support of the community is clear in her own studio’s labor practices. Yet the resulting work seems to be aimed at persuasion more than protest—so that all viewers might feel the weight of these stories on their chests.