‘I was not born to put up with anyone’

UTSA MFA graduate’s works in Main Art Gallery explained

Riley Carroll, Arts & Life Editor

Inspired by her tumultuous relationships and childhood trauma associated with toxic masculinity, Gabi Magaly shared her Mexican-American photographic narrative with UTSA’s Main Art Gallery.

The Assistant Professor of Photography at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona organized her space within the Main Art Gallery based on three of her artistic series. The first series she touched on is framed on the northernmost wall of her collection at the gallery. Its title, “Yo No Nací Para Aguantar A Nadie,” translates to “I was not born to put up with anyone.” 

“I asked [my subjects] a couple [of] questions,” Magaly shared. “‘Can you write a short statement of what you wish you heard growing up or what you could tell your younger self?’”

Magaly printed her subjects’ wishes onto large pieces of fabric, strung them across a clothesline and had the subjects pose before them. Some of the textiles read “You don’t have to be hetero to be a hero,” “Cuando crees en ti misma te ves mas bonita,” which translates to “When you believe in yourself you look more beautiful,” “You are wanted for simply being you” and “Los hombres tambien lloran,” meaning “Men cry too.”

The easternmost wall of Magaly’s collection displays “Gabi and Frank” — an intimate sequence of self-portraits Magaly took during times of turmoil in her relationship with her partner, Frank. 

“It has grown into this huge series of me photographing different moments in our relationship when I felt something shift, or when we’re growing in a certain way or pulling apart,” Magaly expressed.

Each of these portraits Magaly captured with her partner depict a unique and personal moment but only reveal Magaly’s face — never Frank’s — as the couple worked through a rough patch. 

“In a way, this is my love letter to him and my relationship [with] him,” Magaly explained. “This was me trying to create a very tender, beautiful love story between us to show the public that you can be empowered in these moments with your partner [and] you can [share] this vulnerability with your friends.”

The last series of Magaly’s collection, which she called her “family work,” is displayed on the southernmost wall of the gallery. The title, “Es Una Cruz Bien Dura A Cagar,” means “It is a cross that is really heavy to carry.” The series consists of dozens of framed family photos situated along a 15-foot shelf.

“Unfortunately, I did lose my great grandmother a year and a half ago, then my grandpa and my cousin — all within a year and a half,” Magaly shared. “This series does capture moments where I do photograph my grandpa’s funeral. I do photograph my cousin’s funeral. And I did get blessings from both my grandma and my tia — my aunt — to photograph those moments.”

Magaly’s works will be on display at UTSA in the Main Art Gallery until Oct. 29. Additional “Artist Gallery Talks” will be held at 9 a.m. on Oct. 7 with Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson and at 9 a.m. on Oct. 14 with Guillermina Zabala.

For more information about Magaly and her works, visit her website at https://www.gabimagaly.com/.