McNay debuts two new exhibits

‘True Believers: Benny Andrews and Deborah Roberts’ and ‘Margarita Cabrera: Blurring Borders’ on display through 2023

Lauren Hernandez, Contributing Writer

On Oct. 6, the McNay Art Museum opened two new exhibitions — “True Believers: Benny Andrews and Deborah Roberts” and “Margarita Cabrera: Blurring Borders.” The “True Believers” exhibit displays artworks from Andrews and Roberts side by side to reveal thematic and material similarities that emerge despite the fact that these artists were from two different generations. On the other hand, Margarita Cabrera’s immersive exhibition displays stories of sacrifice to show how people can live better lives in new communities through migration. 

Andrews was born in 1930 in Plainview, Georgia, and Roberts was born in 1962 in Austin, Texas, where she continues to work. Both artists utilize painting, collage and drawing to tell their stories of racial injustice and the importance of family. 

Upon entering the “True Believers” exhibit, you are surrounded by richly colored walls decorated with massive canvases. Andrews’ artworks typically utilize recycled materials, like in his portrait “The Cop” (1968), which features a police officer whose 3D nose is made out of fabric and thickly applied paint. In contrast, Roberts tends to use more photography in her collages, such as in her artwork “Political Lambs in a Wolf’s World” (2018), which features fragmented images of two identical girls holding police booking numbers clipped from Rosa Parks’ 1955 mugshot. Andrews and Roberts use similar and varying techniques to reveal their point of view on America, and through their canvases, we get the opportunity to hear them tell their stories of family, inequality and other critical themes.

Once you come to the end of the “True Believers” exhibit, you step right into another artistic adventure — Margarita Cabrera’s “Blurring Borders.” Cabrera was born in 1973 and is a Mexican-American artist who specializes in textile-based soft sculptures. Her “Blurring Borders” exhibition features a hardwood floor covered with faux plants that replicate the cacti and other indigenous vegetation found on the border between the United States and Mexico. These plants are made out of discarded border patrol uniforms and are decorated with embroidered images sewn by community members through a series of workshops hosted by Cabrera. On the walls of this exhibit, videos of people sharing their stories of sacrifice and migration are projected. In addition to this, you can hear the mocking of crudely sewn parrots that are placed on perches in between the cacti. As people around the room clap and converse, these birds — which represent Mexican parrots that are at risk of extinction due to the pet trade — pick up on these noises and mimic them. The last touch to this interactive and immersive exhibit is shown on an iPad, which reveals three-dimensional versions of Cabrera’s gouache paintings that hover above the soft sculptures. All of these elements together express how sacrifice can lead to a better life in a new community.

These two new exhibitions will remain on display at the McNay Art Museum through Jan. 22, 2023. For more information, visit