About the writer:

Aurelio Minesinger is an artist who acquired his BFA from  The University of Texas in San Antonio and an Arts & Culture writer who resides is San Antonio, Texas. 

Review: Between Us

by Aurelio Minesinger

Between US, the solo exhibition of artist Barbara Miñarro at Clamp Light Studios, explored the relationships between people and countries with interactive sculptural installations. The exhibition title acted as a double meaning that bounced between the socio-political issues of the United States and Mexico as well as the artist’s direct relationships with women who have had a positive impact on her life.

Minarro’s selection of textiles was motivated by her personal relationships with specific women who have been a major part of her life. They built a sense of continuity that bound the works together subjectively. The installation used the physical stitching of the materials as the communicative device to represent her intent. The work of Between Us is a manifestation of the relationships that the artist has nurtured through the years. The installation is a visual representation of the connections that hold people and cultures together, looming as a buffer between personal exploration and political conversation.

The stuffed textiles dangled and protruded all through the room, behaving as obstacles to navigate. Having an element for the audience to interact with in the exhibition space challenged them to think about familiarizing oneself with alien terrain, a feeling which many immigrants are familiar with. Often migrants are ostracized while simultaneously adapting to an unfamiliar culture, which has been unwelcoming and imparted negative stereotypes on them.

The work engaged the viewer very directly at first by being an element of the gallery that had to be maneuvered, not unlike the customs, culture, and socio-political barriers that immigrants face when moving to a new country. The artist expanded and emphasized the idea by choosing to install the pieces in an area that would typically be designated for walking and mingling. The pieces started a visual dialogue but also invited the senses in a very tactile way, being made from materials that are familiar and may invoke the feeling of touching the fibers without needing to be directly handled.

The installation established a visual rapport, pushing further than materiality or the tenderness of personal relationships. It dared to encroach on the rocky geo-political associations between the United States and Mexico with a sensitive and unique touch. The decisions in regards to the material and attention to detail made the overall body of work dreamy yet challenging, offering an experience that was both pleasant and jarring. The encounter at some points left me wondering whether it was ok to touch them because they looked so darn fluffy…