Works by Melissa Gamez Herrera
March 26 – May 15, 2021
Te Digo Que Lo Llevo En La Sangre (I’m telling you that I carry it in my blood) is a working portrait of women workers who are involved in labor rights advocacy within the context of the maquiladora (assemblage factory) industry in Mexico. The phrase Te Digo Que Lo Llevo En La Sangre comes from a conversation I had with a former maquiladora worker, named Pilar Perez, in which she details her experience working for the maquiladora, and her experience in organizing workers and activism. The resulting artwork I make includes photographs, handmade books, video, sculpture and works on paper. Ultimately, my translation of the empowerment and stories of these women workers into works of art are at the center of my practice. Throughout this project, I have worked with the grassroots, woman-led, labor rights advocacy organization called Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO, Border Committee of Workers) to make this work. These women workers risk so much to be able to advocate for themselves, and to teach others how to defend themselves in the workplace. They risk social isolation from coworkers, and they risk their livelihoods. Empowerment of women workers lies at the center of this project in which I attempt to translate their own sense of self-worth, their love of family, and their rights through translation, testimony and photography.
Melissa Gamez-Herrera is an interdisciplinary artist who works in photography, bookmaking, printmaking, and other multimedia practices. She is from San Antonio, TX and earned a BA in Art and Art History from Colgate University in 2014 and earned an MFA in Studio Art at the University of North Texas in 2020. Melissa uses photography as a medium through which to speak on issues of identity, community, and justice. She does this through research of events related to violations of human rights and grapples with the way art can interpret and lead the way to collective healing. Her images often depict home and portraiture to challenge the way marginalized people are often viewed through an American perspective. Melissa has participated in exhibitions at Artspace III in Fort Worth, TX, Oak Cliff Cultural Center in Dallas, TX, Mantle Art Gallery in San Antonio, TX and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA.