La Visa Negra 2.0 by Leila Hernandez
January 7 - February 25, 2022
Leila Hernández is an artist, designer, educator and a fervent admirer of popular culture and ancient folklore. She studied Diseño Artesanal (Handcraft Design) at the Universidad Dr. Jose Matias Delgado in the Escuela de Artes Aplicadas Carlos Alberto Imery in her country-of-origin El Salvador, where she learned about ceramics, textiles, and metals. Ms. Hernández later received a Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) from the University of Florida. She currently lives and works in Edinburg, Texas.
A global artist, Ms. Hernández has lived in Florence and Paris studying printmaking, drawing, painting, and art history. Living abroad and visiting major museums and cultural centers have influenced her artistically. Ms. Hernández enjoys and is receptive to the color, texture and compositions in local handcrafts of the countries that she has visited. Even though Ms. Hernández now resides in the United States, she always finds a way to reconnect to her beloved handcrafts/Artesanias, culture and folklore not just from her country of origin but from other cultures that are immersed in color, texture and pattern. In La Visa Negra 2.0: hanging the laundry outside, Ms. Hernández explores the mixture of cultures, ideas and opinions in the border area between South Texas and Northern Mexico.
La Visa Negra 2.0 hanging the laundry outside is a collection of narratives dealing with time, identity, and place via the cultural crossover between South Texas and Northern Mexico. The base of the conceptual discourse of this work derives from researching and referencing the daily lives and sociopolitical concerns of illegal immigrants living and working in the United States. The media applied in the work is composed mainly of clothing or ropa usada (ropas), as the catalyst for this conversation. This visual observation has transformed the ropas into a media of expression representing the humanized signifier of likely situations as might be experienced by the thousands of nameless and faceless workers or obreros who straddle both sides of the border on a regular basis. The term Visa Negra is the satirical code known among the people crossing the border illegally through the Rio Grande River and it is the black visa meaning the black inner tube, the only required “paperwork” needed to cross the river.
La Visa Negra 2.0 hanging the laundry outside is composed of three areas. The first portion is a series of textile tapestries, the second is a collection of framed quilts referred to as Las Labores, and the newest series titled KoKonetlatok sleeping on the job. The entire exhibition is sustainable recycled art created from re-purposed clothing gathered from thrift shops, flea markets (pulgas), and the ropas which are places where clothing is sold by the pound. This exhibition also contains material gathered at the border wall that immigrants use to cross over such as wooden ladders.
There is also a stand-alone piece titled “A Word on DACA”, due to the direct political comment regarding the disappearance of an opportunity to the children (known as the Dreamers) brought to the United States by their migrating parents. This piece is inspired by the North American quilting symbol of a “safe house” designed to help runaway slaves escape in the south. “A Word on DACA” is largely created from graduation gowns and honor cords to demonstrate the type of exceptional students that are typically Dreamers. These students are a positive contribution to society but have been let down by negative political influences that have no humanity.