Ballroom Marfa hosted Tierra. Sangre. Oro. Adobe Workshop, an education program for Marfa Independent School District high school students. This adobe brick-building workshop was led by artist Rafa Esparza, and gave students from our community the opportunity to engage in a creative process steeped in regional history. Esparza’s program opened new channels of expression, encouraged understanding and pride in Borderlands cultural heritage, and further illuminated the traditional practice of adobe brick-making.
Esparza uses the process of building adobe bricks as a tool to investigate culture, labor, ecology, and politics. The use of adobe has a long history in the Texas/Mexico border region where Ballroom is based. The public nature of Esparza’s process – and the community effort that he engages to create the building blocks of his installations – was a unique opportunity to produce new work that bears distinct ties to our region. During the workshops Esparza presented his history with adobe brick building and its significance to the cultural heritage of the Southwest. Esparza also offered an overview of the materials used in the brick building process.
The program also included a day of adobe brickmaking with high school students at MISD. After drying, the bricks were transported to the Ballroom Marfa gallery for installation. Students were invited to install this work, and explore the Tierra. Sangre. Oro exhibition.
Rafa Esparza is a multidisciplinary artist who was born, raised, and is currently living in Los Angeles. Woven into Esparza’s bodies of work are his interest in history, personal narratives, and kinship. He is inspired by his own relationship to colonization and the disrupted genealogies that come forth as a result. Using live performance as his main form of inquiry, Esparza employs site-specificity, materiality, memory and (non)documentation as primary tools to interrogate and critique ideologies, power structures and binaries that problematize the “survival” process of historicized narratives and the environments wherein people are left to navigate and socialize.
Esparza has performed in a variety of spaces including AIDS Project Los Angeles, Highways Performance Space, REDCAT, Human Resources, SOMArts, Vincent Price Museum, LACE and various public sites throughout Los Angeles. He is a recipient of an Emerging Artist 2014 California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Arts, a 2014 Art Matters grantee, and a 2015 recipient of a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. Esparza was recently part of the 2016 Made in L.A. Biennial at the Hammer Museum and the 2017 Whitney Biennial.
This program is made possible by the generous support of Brown Foundation, Inc.; National Endowment for the Arts; Texas Commission on the Arts; Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees; and Ballroom Marfa Members.