South Texas Souls
Documenting the region’s unique traditions
By Jenelle Esparza
Artist: Jenelle Esparza
Project: “South Texas Souls”
Description: Visual artist Jenelle Esparza’s family has resided in Texas, by way of Mexico and Spain, for several generations. They have lived through the many shifts in cultures that culminate in her identity as Tejana. Through photography and textiles, Esparza examines the lesser-known history of cotton and labor in South Texas, and explores the parallelism between landscapes and humans as witnesses and records of history. Her work in cotton textiles stems from her family lineage in the fields, and her conceptual artwork finds inspiration in her photographs of home, which includes this series: “South Texas Souls.”
Over the years, Esparza has brought her camera along on family visits and road trips to Premont and Falfurrias; further north to Atascosa; and as far south as Roma, where she has an ancestral connection. A history of territorial conflicts and adaptation of customs has defined the region as culturally rich. The photographs in “South Texas Souls” document the resulting uniqueness of the traditions in South Texas—small, intimate glimpses into lived experiences that highlight a complex and under-told history of Texas.