Maria Amalia Wood in collaboration
with the Soñé una Milpa Party guests

Cotton napkins embroidered by the artist and dyed by the participants with huevos rancheros, salsa verde, fruit, blueberry pie, orange juice, and coffee; some have burn marks

16”x14.5” (individual napkin) 

Photo credits: Aliza Rand

In Spanish we often hear the phrase “vida manchada” (stained life) when referring to someone who has committed a crime. Filthy and unwanted, stains have negative associations.  I see similarities to the associations  placed on undocumented immigrants. Manchas (Stains) is an artist book made with embroidered cloth pages that carry evidence of marks made at the Soñé una Milpa party.  

In this work, the meaning of stains is transformed from something unwanted to a celebration of the valuable and resilient life journeys of Latina immigrants and their families. 

Like a simple tablecloth or napkin, relegated to the background during a meal, Latina women grow up in a “machista” culture feeling insignificant and devalued.  Dirty stains and labor intensive embroidery on a napkin question the value placed on objects, art, and on personal lived experiences.