Right now you are at the Leslie and Johanna Garfield Gallery at the Chazen Museum of Art. You first notice some purple vinyl stickers on the floor. You stare at your feet and wonder where you will fly with these birds.
But then, you notice on the wall some big purple words that read “Untethered: Our Journey Beyond Borders” or “Sin Atadura: Nuestro Viaje Más Allá de las Fronteras” in Spanish. You discover that you will explore, in two languages the commonalities between human and animal migration through Roberto Torres Mata’s art, on display at the Chazen through May 14.
You step inside Torres Mata’s exhibition. An MFA student at UW-Madison with a specialization in printmaking, Torres Mata draws on his family background and identity to explore the complexities of migration.
He was born in California to Mexican parents who migrated to the U.S. in search of a better life. He spent much time traveling to Mexico meeting the Zapotec and Mixtec people of Oaxaca, where he completed a three-month internship granted by the School of Human Ecology.
“Their use of folk art was very powerful through their textiles. They have a lot more history in the land because of the ruins of Mesoamerica,” Torres Mata says. “That is a driving force of my inspiration and influence with the work that I have in the show.”
That sprouted his interest in exploring his background, family, what being from Mexico means as well as the issues of migration in the United States, and the stories that migrants bring with them here.