Melissa Gamez Herrera | Visual Artist

Projects
Zine Project
Color Code
Women Workers of the Borderlands
Unskilled Labor

Ofrecimientos Curativos

Video Work

Artist Books

Reading

General Work
Digitization

CV
Bio
Press
Contact

︎︎

Current

11/29/2023


“A bird that sings for freedom” - zine project


Since 1967, over 1 million Palestinian people have been arrested by the Israeli government. There are 7,800 Palestinian prisoners, 2,000 held on Administrative Detention, meaning they have not been charged or given trial. 200 children are prisoners. Children can receive 20 years for throwing stones. Israel is an apartheid state which is also the only country to try children in military court.

We believe that art, poetry, scholarship and other ways of human expression can speak truth to power. We are asking for artists, writers, scholars, musicians, and anyone interested in contributing to a publication in support of Palestine. All funds made from the sale of print and digital publications will be given to the Defense for Children International Palestine- "an independent, local Palestinian child rights organization dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip."

Send your materials so freedomzineproject@proton.me

Deadline to submit: Friday, December 15th, 2023.

Writers: Please keep writing 500 words maximum.
Visual artists: Please only submit 3-5 images. Photography, drawing, painting, memes, etc. allowed.
We would like to include many different kinds of expression: Musicians, creatives working in video, audio, and any other alternative media to please create QR codes for the publication. Please make sure your link works and is able to be viewed/heard by anyone with the link.

You have the ability to be published anonymously, or using a pseudonym, to safeguard your identity.



11/15/2023

The situation reports on the ongoing genocide perpetuated in Gaza grows dimmer by the day– https://www.unrwa.org/resources/reports

Artists must use our hands, our voices, our work to speak on injustice. Without fear, or with a little fear, but with the absurd belief that our words and work mean something. 

Like Chris Hedges always says, “I don’t fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascist.”

Here are the 6,000+ names of Palestinians killed in the Israeli assault between October 7-25th. It is outdated now as the toll reached 10,000+ just a few days ago. 



10/19/2023

My statement on the ongoing massacre on Gaza


The Gaza Strip is a strip of land occupying approximately 5 miles by 25 miles in measurement and is referred to by Human Rights Watch as an “open air prison.” Its people live in a densely packed concentration camp with “severe food insecurity,” mass unemployment, and no control of its borders– people cannot evacuate, and aid cannot make its way inside Gaza, aside from what Israel will allow. 

All people, regardless of nationality, race, religion, should be treated with dignity by nation states and any acts of violence and aggression against civilians is wrong. The forced evacuation orders imposed on Gaza by Israel has major implications for the humanitarian crisis unfolding. These international events will have a substantial negative effect on the way the US treats migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border coming from Mexico, Central America and elsewhere. More and more funds will go to fund war and the surveillance and enforcement of borders.

As an artist and citizen of the world, I am against the actions of Israel to “collectively punish” the people of Gaza through the blockade of any aid entering the area. I am disgusted, enraged and sickened at the lack of global support for the Gazans who have all been abandoned, and left to die. This is not a war. There are no “two sides.” Israel dominates the Gaza strip and has full control of its borders. How else would its people be unable to evacuate through any other side of the piece of land they are forced to live in? 

I am calling on all artists, supporters of human rights and citizens of the world to speak out and denounce the actions of Israel, to denounce attacks on civilians, for all parties to let hostages go, for our elected officials to demand a ceasefire and end the occupation of Gaza.

Read: 
THE SLAVE REVOLT IN GAZA, and Bernie Sanders
ISRAEL WOULD NEVER TARGET MEDICAL FACILITIES!
Rockets from Gaza: Harm to Civilians from Palestinian Armed Groups’ Rocket Attacks



9/20/2023

Artists Looking at Art: Melissa Gamez-Herrera



“We had no choice”: An altar to migrants


I was so fortunate to be asked to create an altar for the McNay art museum in San Antonio, TX. When I was asked to make the altar back in June, what was so much at the forefront of my consciousness was the tragedy that occurred in the Mediterranean Sea when a ship, called the Adriana, with around 800 migrants onboard, capsized. Women and children, and Pakistanis traveled in the lower decks, none of whom survived.

“Nearly 3,800 migrants died on routes within and from the Middle East and North Africa last year, according to the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency. This year is on track to be the worse: The central Mediterranean had its deadliest first quarter since 2017...” - The New York Times, June 16th 2023.


An altar serves as an offering to a deity or person who is significant. “We had no choice...” refers directly to the difficult decision that migrants make to leave they nations, their homes. The parents of one of the Syrian migrants who boarded the ship, and later drowned when the ship capsized, said, “We had no choice but to send him by sea.”

There is a sound piece which plays as an undercurrent to the altar, which is a sound recording of myself walking on various grounds, dry grass, dirt, gravel, cement. Sounds of tides were arranged to play throughout the piece. For me, this part of the altar places the viewer, or listener, into a different sensory space. Sounds tigger feelings, and bring forth a meditation. It can grip you at your core.

The life jacket is also an offering to those who did not have them, especially the children forced to travel in the lower decks, and who are often abandoned. The other two walls are offerings necessary for travel, for survival whether essential or spiritual. I chose the life jacket as an offering to those who did not have them, especially the children. 

The other two walls also serve as offerings as being those items necessary for travel, or survival. Rosaries, serve the spiritual need. The shoes, although non-utilitarian, the picture frame of migrants not seen clearly, from the local newspaper.

The third wall, with a water jug covered in a reflective rescue blanket, needed to provide protection from the elements, but also call to attention its existence from far away.

The flowers and electric candles call forth those seemingly haphazard altars on the side of the road that a grieving family placed to honor a loved one who has passed away.

I would like to go back to this idea, or rather this deeply human emotion of impotence, of feeling as though there is nothing we can do. As an artist, we can especially feel this way when we speak about human tragedies and the governments that allow the deaths of many people to just happen.



8/2/2023

“He... saw that matter is a mirror — everything is a mirror that reflects light and creates images of that light — and the world of illusion, the Dream, is just like smoke which doesn’t allow us to see what we really are.”



- The four agreements: a practical guide to personal freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz.



6/15/2023





Aquí y Allá

(Exhibition closed)
Presented by Presa House Gallery at Presa House Gallery, San Antonio TX


The work I displayed in this exhibition came from my investigation into the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands as a site of exploited labor, with an emphasis on gendered workplace discrimination in Mexico. The workplace and all of its baggage always finds a way to enter the home– the site of ordinary life. Some might refer to the home as a sanctuary. However, sanctuary implies that we are running from something which is intending to suppress, capture, or otherwise harm us. Particularly the marginalized. That “something” creeps into the Home via cracks in its structure. Via the psyche.

It was an immense pleasure to show my work in Presa House. Its structure, its location, its people allowed us the space to experiment and be ourselves as artists and I could not be more appreciative. I hope to be back.



Picking at Scabs

(Contemporary Art Month Perennial Exhibition 2023)
Opening Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM
Michael and Noémi Neidorff Art Gallery at Trinity University

Curated by Gil Rocha

Statement from the Curator:

This set of works are a metaphor for hereditary injuries that are passed on through stories, testimonies, tales, objects, and subtle gestures that embrace individual and generational suffering. The work is an approach towards empathy for someone else and questions “can we heal together?”. In the search to heal, this group of artists leave a testament of where the wounds began creating the pain before generating the scars. Holding on to a picturesque notion that the mistakes once made will never be repeated. Each artist offers beauty and indifference from race to the abuse of power, while emphasizing multiple sacrifices taken individually towards change, often at the cost of accepting the pain within themselves.

Artists Included in the Exhibition:

Juan Carlos Escobedo, Anthony Francis, Melissa Gamez-Herrera, Violeta Garza, Pedro Morales, Theresa Newsome, Erika Ordoñez, Anthony Rundblade, Alán Serna, and Gary Sweeney




Aquí y Allá

(Nuestra Collective show)
Presented by Presa House Gallery at Presa House Gallery, San Antonio TX
Opening Saturday, March 4, from 7 to 11 PM. On view until April 15th.

Opening Saturday, March 4, from 7 to 11 PM, Presa House Gallery hosts Nuestra Artist Collective. The Collective was founded in 2021 by Dallas-based artists Tina Medina, Karla García, and Eliana Miranda. Their mission is to support and create platforms that empower the voices of Xicana and Latina artists. Their inaugural curation, Fronteriza, was exhibited in October 2022 at Oak Cliff Cultural Center in Dallas.

The nine participating artists include Michelle Cortez Gonzales, Melissa Gámez-Herrera, Karla García, Sara Herrera, Tina Medina, Analise Minjarez, Eliana Miranda, Tesa Morin, and Lupita Murillo Tinnen. Each artist brings a different perspective from uniquely personal experiences depicted in various media and techniques, including ceramics, fibers, textiles, painting, drawing, photography, video, and performance.



Soy de Tejas - A Statewide Survey of Latinx Art

Presented by City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture at Centro de Artes, San Antonio TX
Opening February 9, 2023. On view through July 9th, 2023

 

Soy de Tejas presents the works of forty native Texan and Texas-based contemporary artists who reflect the diverse and beautiful complexity of Latinx identities. Curated by Rigoberto Luna, the more than 100 artworks filling the two-story exhibition forge new connections and explore intersections from a nexus of artists who ambitiously blaze a trail of contemporary artmaking, presenting fresh Latinx perspectives and experiences while amplifying the voices of a segment of Texas' most inspiring established and emerging artists.

"The exhibition is coupled with unprecedented enthusiasm and attention turned to narratives of artists of Latin American descent within the current art world and explores themes ranging from race, class, and gender to migration, mythmaking, displacement, and indigeneity," said Luna. "In contrast, many works center on celebrating joyful customs, culture, and traditions that unite and sustain our communities in the face of a multitude of challenges."

Featured Artists: Cande Aguilar, Francis Almendárez, Fernando Andrade, Violette Bule, Angel Cabrales, Sara Cardona, Christian Cruz, Jenelle Esparza, Christopher Nájera Estrada, Melissa Gamez-Herrera, Karla Michell García, Omar González, Raul de Lara, Ingrid Leyva, Ruben Luna, Alejandro Macias, Chris Marin, Gabo Martinez, Gabriel Martinez, Tina Medina, Juan de Dios Mora, Arely Morales, Francisco Moreno, Patrick McGrath Muñiz, Benjamin Muñoz, Marianna T. Olague, Joe Peña, Jaylen Pigford, Vick Quezada, Stephanie Concepcion Ramirez, Josué Ramírez, Natalia Rocafuerte, Gil Rocha, Eva Marengo Sanchez, Marco Sánchez, Ashley Elaine Thomas, Bella Maria Varela, José Villalobos, Sarah Zapata and Jasmine Zelaya.


Melissa Gamez-Herrera © 2023