Why do you use embroidery thread in your work?

I initially started using embroidery thread because I had a dream about it in which I saw embroidery thread dripping in paint, going through a canvas and dripping down the canvas. The images in the dream were of hip-hop lyrics, and this had a lasting impression on me. This image stayed with me for months before I picked up embroidery thread and started trying things out, but in the end decided against the idea of the lyrics and focused on the images that I wanted to work with, the ones I use today of immigrants and people after mass shootings.


I started using the embroidery thread to fill in the areas of human skin on a series of smaller images simply because it felt right. It was a process of discovery, not a predetermined and intellectual positioning. I made things and the making itself evolved into the final concept of embroidering only the parts of the painting that represent human flesh: hands, feet, faces, etc.


I think the use of embroidery thread also came from the recesses of my childhood experiences. I have watched my mother sew my entire life, making our things and fixing people's clothes, and was also around her work sewing, fixing, making and embroidering. Both my mother and one of my sisters have always embroidered and do to this day; I have been around embroidery and sewing since my earliest memories, always in my mother's sewing room with her sewing machines, needles, threads and endless drawers of buttons, thread and materials. Sewing has a long and complicated Latina tradition in particular, and as a Latino male, who was culturally trained to be machismo, embroidering flies in the face of this predisposed caricature of masculinity, and I like that; it appeals to me a lot and fits very much within the ethos of my work, which is calling us to shed our generational baggage and heal our cultural wounds. For me, embroidering is, in this sense, a very personal act of self-healing, of removing the predisposed ideas of masculinity that are forced upon men and in particular Latino men.


I also use embroidery thread because, first, it signifies the psychological frailty of the human condition, that we are emotional creatures first and foremost and as such are deeply traumatized by the often harsh and absurd world that we create around us or that unjustly imposes itself upon us. We are delicate threads, so to speak, in a harsh, angular, cutting world. Second, embroidery thread signifies the wounds that are passed through the ages from one generation to the next, binding us to often traumatic conditions that may not even be our own, threads of both pain and joy that come to define us, our ways of doing things, how we think, how we feel, how we see the world, how we see each other, and ultimately how we come to both discover and define ourselves.

I choose to work very specifically from Texas because Texas is the culmination point of all the extremes of American society. It is the ugliest of stages upon which the American drama unfolds. Texas r