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Fronteras: Art project inspired by Aztec mythology highlights community stories of sacrifice

Most pieces of art are considered deeply individualist — they typically involve one artist creating a unique sculpture, painting or mural.

For Mexican artist Margarita Cabrera, art involves local engagement and interaction. A self-described community artist, all of Cabrera’s past and current projects rely on volunteers.

Her project Árbol de la Vida — or Tree of Life — features stories of the community told through clay sculptures.

Cabrera’s latest project, “Sacrifice - Tequitl ” once again asks for community involvement. This time, she takes inspiration from the life and sacrifices of the Aztec warrior Copil, whose sacrifices resulted in establishing what we now know as Mexico.

Cabrera hosted two “casting calls” during June asking for San Antonians to share their own stories of sacrifice.

Two women who attended the calls were Adriana Netro and Monique Bhimani. Bhimani shared the story of her grandmother, who emigrated from Vietnam to the United States as a single mother.

“She traveled half the world to make a better life for her family and for us,” said Bhimani.

For Netro, the concept of nepantla — a Nahuatl word that translates to “the space in between,” — captures how she feels today. She said she is in transition after the death of a loved one 10 years ago.

“At this point in my life, I am just experiencing a new personality,” she said. “Like I was born again in some kind of way.”

These stories of sacrifice and transformation will be used as part of a video installation in Cabrera’s solo exhibition at the McNay Art Museum in October.

Cabrera is still collecting community stories of sacrifice; all ages and backgrounds are welcome. Another recording session, or casting call, is taking place Aug. 13 at the McNay Art Museum.

Click here for more information.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Marian Navarro produces for Texas Public Radio's Morning Edition and Fronteras.