“When I look out my window, I can see across to the opposite way, to expose everything.”
Mexican side of the border,” says Margarita Cabrera Her process also works from the outside in:
from her home in El Paso, Texas. Born in Mexico, she she takes extensive measurements and makes
and her family immigrated to the United States when comprehensive drawings of each blender and coffee
she was a child. The two cultures are certainly inspir- machine, bicycle and backpack, before creating her
ing, but the primary influence for Cabrera’s fanciful, own version in vinyl. As a result, Cabrera has effec-soft sculptures lies right outside her window. tively invented her own method of pattern making.
After moving to El Paso from New York, where she Perhaps most ambitious — and certainly most
was studying art, Cabrera became interested in the dramatic — is a silver Hummer, made to scale and
lives of men and women toiling in factories along constructed from vinyl using her meticulous process.
the U.S.-Mexico border. Though it’s difficult to gain Each button and switch, door handle and window-entry to these establishments, she managed to visit pane is included. Even the interior structure is
one. Her experience inspired a series of sculptures mirrored in layers and layers of sewn vinyl.
based on objects produced in the factory. Most of Cabrera chose this emblem of power and aggres-these are commonly used machines; Cabrera wanted sion because many of the Hummer’s parts are made
to highlight the contributions of immigrant workers in Mexico, and because she sees these vehicles
to familiar conveniences of everyday American life. patrolling the border each day. The size of the project
She handcrafts each object from vinyl, using let her hire an assistant; Cabrera happily found Laura
industrial sewing machines and sometimes a needle Vera, an unemployed factory worker, who continues
and thread. “Vinyl is a substitute for something bet- to work in the studio today. —Annie Buckley
ter,” Cabrera explains, “but it’s cheap and it’s often
used to cover surfaces. I wanted to use it in the
Photograph courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles
>> More of Cabrera’s Work: