Gathering Bones

Jenelle Esparza

In Residence: May 16 – Jul 23, 2018

Exhibition: Jul 19 – Sep 9, 2018

Short-handled garden hoes are symbols of oppression and control over the body. In response, I had the object appear stooped over, contorted, and rendered in glass, making it useless and fragile.

These tools were outlawed in commercial agriculture in 1975.

My interest in the history of cotton and the various possibilities of working with it is personal and universal. Personally, cotton represents my heritage and my family roots. Culturally, cotton is a common link of our collective American story. Conversely, it also represents a symbol of oppression due to its history of violence and exploitation in the US stemming from its economic significance worldwide.

The work in this exhibition expresses the connection between the body and the cotton fields, with each piece representing the physical toll of labor on the body and spirit to reveal its stress, strain, strength, and resilience.

Download PDF of Gallery Notes for Gathering Bones


Jenelle Esparza

San Antonio, Texas, USA

Jenelle Esparza is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. Primarily a photographer, Esparza also works in multi-media installation and abstract photo-based work. She received her BFA in photography from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2010. She was recently awarded the 2015 NALAC (Nat’l Association of Latino Arts and Culture) Artist Grant for her project El Color de la Obra, exhibited at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. She has exhibited nationally and is currently Education Coordinator at the McNay Art Museum.
Photo Credit: Rigoberto Luna
Jenelle’s Website

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Jeffreen Hayes

Chicago, Illinois, USA

As the Executive Director of Threewalls, a position she has held since 2015, Jeffreen provides strategic vision for the artistic direction and impact of the organization in Chicago. Under her leadership, Threewalls intentionally develops artistic platforms that encourages connections beyond traditional engagements with art.
An advocate for racial inclusion, equity and access, Jeffreen has developed a curatorial and leadership approach that invites community participation, particularly those in marginalized communities. Her curatorial projects include Intimate Interiors (2012), Etched in Collective History (2013), SILOS (2016), Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman (2018), and Process (2019).

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