Museum  May 11, 2018  Chandra Noyes

Craftivism with Care in Tanya Aguiñiga’s Solo Exhibition at MAD

Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care,' "Nopal" (detail), 2017. Abaca pulp, clay, alpaca, flax, succulents, iron, hoursehair, cochineal, copper, gold, human hair. 7 × 5 in. (17.8 × 12.7 cm) each

This week at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York, Los Angeles–based artist and designer Tanya Aguiñiga debuts a body of work representing her social justice-based artistic practice. Aguiñiga’s Craft & Care includes diverse projects and objects, bringing together fiber art, furniture design, performance art, and community engagement to document the lives of people living binationally.

Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'

Having grown up crossing the border between San Diego and Tijuana every day for school, Aguiñiga uses her unique brand of craftivism to shed light on the lives of the many people who do this daily. Through her engagement with these commuters, Aguiñiga seeks to capture their stories, explore the complex issues they face, and create community amongst them. Her ongoing AMBOS Project (Art Made Between Opposite Sides), uses postcards and thread to literally and metaphorically tie together the US and Mexico, as well as the commuters she engages in the project. Collecting the stories of these people, Aguiñiga documents their lives, and puts a face on complicated issues like immigration and border security. 

Aguiñiga’s furniture serves to support immigrants practically and conceptually. Made of comforting materials like felt and leather, Aguiñiga goes a step further by filling them with food staples like rice and salt. Aguiñiga’s use of fiber also serves to comfort and connect with the viewer. In her large installations in Craft & Care, Aguiñiga uses this tactile quality to draw us in, forcing us into greater intimacy with her subject matter and the community they represent. This is craftivism at its finest, both in her use of materials, her engagement with the community, and how the results captivate us. Aguiñiga weaves the stories of people who cross the border together, through thoughtful objects that intrigue the viewer.

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'
Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'
Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'
Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'
Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Installation view of 'Tanya Aguiñiga: Craft & Care'

On view through October 2, Craft & Care serves as a complement to MAD’s La Frontera: Encounters Along the Border exhibition, which uses jewelry to explore issues of immigration. To learn more, visit MAD online at https://madmuseum.org/exhibition/tanya-aguiniga-craft-and-care

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra is Managing Editor for Art & Object.