The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Visual arts review

Reviewed by Jacqueline May, November 12, 2004, Arts

"Margarita Cabrera: Maquila"

Women & Their Work, through Nov. 12

Margarita Cabrera's show is filled with soft, stuffed sculptures of everyday household objects, appealingly floppy pieces rendered in bright, cheerful colors. Threads dangle from their seams, indicating a more personal sense of craftsmanship, a certain mammalian warmth in contrast to the smooth finish we would typically expect from these items. Soft parts are juxtaposed with hard for structure and for textural contrast, as in Batter Mixer, which combines real mixer blades with the soft stuffed parts. The comparison with Claes Oldenburg's stuffed sculptures is inevitable, but the scale of Cabrera's work is certainly more human, and her concepts appear more populist in nature.

The first clue to that can be found in the title of the show: It refers to a maquiladora, a factory, usually in Mexico along the border with Texas, that is generally staffed with low-paid female workers. Cabrera pays homage to these laborers, who are responsible for the production of a great many goods we use in this country. Among the products selected as subjects: a vacuum cleaner, a food processor, and a slow cooker – objects traditionally associated with "women's work." The multicolor VOCHO VW Beetle Sedan is a beautifully delicate little work based on a toy car, using elements from the toy as part of the stuffed version. This delightful series of artworks, somewhat sparsely arranged, left me wanting more. Here's hoping that we'll see many more of Cabrera's works in the coming years.

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