Jenelle Esparza (American, b. 1985) is an interdisciplinary artist who was born in the coastal city of Corpus Christi, TX. She attended the University of Texas at San Antonio and received her BFA in photography in 2010.
Esparza examines the lesser-known history of cotton and labor in South Texas through photography and textiles, and incorporates concepts of body movement, history, gender, identity, culture, and race. Her recent projects consider the intersections of Mexican and American culture and the implications of generational trauma. In El Color de la Obra (2016), Esparza used photography, two-way mirrors, and bronze cotton plants to examine the interconnected histories of South Texas cotton fields and began her exploration into this history which runs several generations deep in her family. Her recent projects utilize textiles and found objects as representations of the body in labor and movement.
Esparza has exhibited nationally in institutions such as The DePaul Art Museum in Chicago, IL and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and The Momentary in Bentonville, AR. She is the recipient of numerous honors including 2015 National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) Artist Grant and the summer 2018 Artpace International Artist Residency. Her work is also included in the permanent collection of the San Antonio, Museum of Art.
Video created by Rigoberto Luna for the artist. This project, Through the Threshold, was made possible in part by an award from the Luminaria Artist Foundation with funding provided by the Department of Arts & Culture of the City of San Antonio. It was on view at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens in October 2020. This video explains the project origins and its connection to my family and my practice as an artist.