"they turned the desert’s spine to metal and stapled it to the earth"
In production for "grown without water", my daughter looks through the border fence between the United States and Mexico with me, one mile from the point where three cities, three states and two countries meet.
Photo by Ryan Smith, 2019
From 2017-18, my daughter and I embarked on our first storytelling adventure together when we were featured as ambassadors for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation's We Will Not Be Tamed Campaign. The year was spent traveling to unlikely places to explore the wild places and people of Texas. As only one of two women featured, representing the border and El Paso, I committed myself to sharing my family's stories and advocating for the beauty of the desert and border that raised me. As our year traveling Texas marched on, my 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 our love for the natural world we are a part of became an undeniable calling to find a way to tell a story about the intangible threads that sew brown experiences to one another in 21st century America. In 2019, I began work for Grown Without Water, an oral history project that culminates in an ethno-autobiographical film. The project sprouts from and seeks to amend my experience sharing a selective and curated version of my family's story with people across Texas, from King Ranch to the Franklin Mountains.
Grown Without Water explores how the U.S./México border between El Paso/Cd. Juárez marks and defines perseverance in the 21st century. It seeks out the intricate mysteries that weave generations together against perceived and pervasive barriers. The project grows from “Cuentos de Cocina”, oral history research carried out through a series of unguarded, inter-generational kitchen conversations between women. Culminating in a mobile ethno-autobiographical documentary, the project creates intimate and safe spaces where communities can work together to remove fabricated stigma, re-framing border lives to look at the complexity of privilege and question the beauty of resilience. In collaboration with Randy Maguire, sound artist and composer, Riley Engemoen, cinematographer and under the mentorship of Angie Reza Tures, Founder of Femme Frontera Film Festival the project is expected to be complete by Fall of 2020.
The project will screen in a network of homes across the country and around the world. Each host will have the opportunity to guide discourse with the help of a storytelling toolkit and videoconference with me. If you are interested in participating in a "Cuentos de Cocina" dinner or would like to learn more about screening the film in your home, wherever you may roam, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complete Project Description
I continue my work as the Executive Director of the Caldo Collective, filling gaps in the border's ever-evolving arts community.
I also continues to design and produce custom and commissioned work for the body through OCO, a jewelry brand that brings to life the tiny hidden treasures of the West Texas desert.
My life and work is also marked distinctly by my service in Senate District 29 as the Director of Community Affairs for State Senator José Rodríguez. In collaboration with an incredible team, my gaze is fixed on the manufactured humanitarian crisis made possible by broken immigration policies, inadequate access to healthcare for women and the LGBTQ community and environmental injustice.