For her debut solo exhibition at Tube Factory Art Space, Laura Ortiz Vega presents a new series of “thread paintings” inspired by the rhetoric surrounding President Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall.
Vega takes as her departure point the now famous images of the eight border wall samples President Trump browsed in 2017 as they were being tested along the actual border between San Diego and Tijuana. Listening to the speeches Trump has given about the wall, and reading his tweets on the subject, Vega then extracted the eight adjectives the President most frequently used to describe the project.
GREAT, BIGGEST, IMPENETRABLE, PHYSICAL, TALL, POWERFUL, BEAUTIFUL, INCREDIBLE
Each word an imposing declaration; each wall sample an impenetrable facade.
Seizing the chance to subvert public perception of these messages, Vega presents the adjectives like graffiti on the border wall samples, turning each section of wall into a billboard advertising its own hyperbolically alleged attributes.
Says Vega, “I saw the opportunity to present this matter in a positive note. I envisioned the wall as a blank canvas for expression, and in a way, made him eat his own words. [It is] a chance to reject the negativity and turn this around.”
Vega models her distinctive thread painting method after the traditional craft techniques of the indigenous Huichol people of western Mexico. She first covers a surface with cera de Campeche, a natural beeswax from the Mexican state of Campeche. She then “draws” on that surface with cotton Perlé embroidery thread, using a palette knife to embed the thread into the wax. It is a long, delicate, and sometimes messy process, and takes weeks to finish a single piece. The resulting image-object has a texture reminiscent of a woven textile, yet is inflexible.
Vega was born in Mexico City in 1975. She studied Industrial Design at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, earning her BFA in 2000. Her work has been exhibited extensively, including at the Museo de Arte Popular de la Ciudad de Mexico, Lyons Weir Gallery in New York, The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco, Breeze Block Gallery in Portland, OR, and Galerie Ernst Hilger in Vienna, Austria. It has been featured at Zona MACO, Pulse LA and MIAMI, Houston Fine Art Fair, Art Chicago NEXT, Art Market San Francisco, Art Toronto, London Art Fair, PINTA Art Fair, and Supermarket Art Fair, Sweden. It was selected for the Tequila CENTENARIO Award at Zona MACO and was awarded with an Honorific Mention at the Bienal de Artes Visuales de Yucatán in 2009.