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"Frackaso," An Art Perspective On Hydraulic Fracturing

Esperanza Peace and Justice Center

A new exhibit opens Friday combining art and fossil fuel extraction called Frackaso. The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center’s Marisol Cortez explained how it was named.

“In English it’s a play on fracas: a mess, a fracas. And in Spanish fracaso means an utter and abject failure,” Cortez said.

And then there’s fracking, which is the third and strongest meaning of this art show. The Esperanza sent out the word they wanted to do an exhibit with hydraulic fracturing as its muse, and people responded.   

“From South Texas to New York and the Marcellus Shale to Fort Worth and the Barnet Shale to Canada, to Mexico,” said Cortez.

Many artists have sent their impressions of fracking, and, I can report, it’s not a pretty picture. Frackaso comes from the perspective of the disenfranchised.  

"We don’t hear about the experience of women," Cortez said. "We don’t hear about the experience of poor people, people who don’t own land, people who don’t own mineral rights. Really we wanted to know what it was like. What was it like for our neighbors to the south.”

The exhibit isn’t just a handful of paintings.

"It’s a good mix of visual arts," Cortez said. "There’s literary arts, poems and prose. There’s also performance. There’s a play submitted from Alberta, Canada. There’s also going to be an excerpt of the play performed live at the opening. So we have a wide variety of genres and also kind of a lot of geographic regions represented in the show."

I felt like I had to ask Ms. Cortez a key question: “To those who say you’re just showing one side here, what do you say to them?”

“The other perspectives that are more pro-industry have an unlimited platform to make those perspectives heard and felt," she said.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii