Stand With Me, 2015-2016, Alley in Manhattan Heights
Xochitl Rodriguez is a post-disciplinary artist who was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. In 2009, she accepted an invitation from Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck and artist Kama Wangdi to serve as Bhutan’s first artist in residence. For more than a year, she was the only visitor to ever live adjacent to the country’s government housing complex where she spurred community engagement through public art programming for youth. In 2011, Xochitl moved to the middle of America and was a resident in the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Project in Kansas City, MO. In 2012, family called Xochitl home and she founded the Caldo Collective, a 501c3 non-profit just months after the birth of her daughter. In 2016, in response to the xenophobia, sexism and racism that threatened her community in a newly horrific way Xochitl simultaneously organized Boundless Across Borders- a womxn’s march on the border and Braiding Borders|Trenzando Fronteras-an action that brought 52 women from both sides of the border together to braid their hair together to form a human chain across the international boundary in El Paso/Cd. Juarez. The action caught the world’s attention as it circulated among global protests against the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States.
In 2018, Xochitl and her daughter embarked on a storytelling adventure together when they served as ambassadors for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation's We Will Not Be Tamed Campaign. The year was spent exploring the wild places and people of Texas. As only one of two women featured, representing the border and El Paso, Xochitl committed herself to sharing her family's stories and advocating for the beauty of the desert and border that raised her. As the year traveling Texas marched on, her home on the border was being threatened by one manufactured crisis after another. The world beyond El Paso and Cd. Juárez was, for the first time, becoming aware of what fronterizxs have known for generations. El Paso has always been a testing ground for dangerous policies that threaten latinx/hispanic/indigenous communities, whether a person is documented or not, naturalized, first generation or fifth.
What began as an opportunity to share her love for the natural world we are a part of became an undeniable calling to find a way to tell a story about the threads that sew brown experiences to one another in 21st century America. In 2019, she was selected as one of sixteen artists for the Interchange Fellowship, made possible by the Andrew T Mellon Foundation. She began work for Grown Without Water, an oral history project that examines collective trauma through unguarded, intergenerational kitchen stories. The work culminated in an ethno-autobiographical film that seeks to amend her experience sharing a selective and curated version of her family's story with people across Texas, from King Ranch to the Marfa.
Today, Xochitl bridges the gaps between community development and public policy as the Director of Community Affairs for State Senator Jose Rodriguez, while maintaining her commitment to a community facing social practice delivered through collaborative creation. Each step taken with intention, her daughter at her side, forever her most ultimate guidepost.