Los Dos Laredos is a space from my past. It conjures the border towns of my youth, Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. This place, now so changed, lives on in my memories and in the stories my family chooses to tell. It is a magical place, and a large one with a combined population of 775,481, together the two towns spread over 786.26 square miles. There, people moved freely back and forth across a river, between two cities, between two countries, and between two languages.
My being comes from Los Dos Laredos. Where you see both sides and you listen twice. Where anything can happen, and the things that we are told are opposite like good/bad, ugly/ beautiful, dark/light-- exist within and for each other, in close relation. Much like an accordion, Los Dos Laredos moves in and out, producing a unique and ever-changing sound.
The vantage point I occupy - of the two sides within a single experience creates a layered, complicated picture. I act as witness to these two worlds that once were one, and as a witness to this space of in-between: the border/ la Frontera. The in-between, where life-changing events have and continue to happen. Events that forever alter the way the world is seen. This intertwined history has become the present-day reality and rhetoric of borders which echoes globally.
I am grateful to be not from the edge of one place, but
from of the outer boundary of two places.
This prospective allows views that most don’t get to see: Los Dos Laredos has given me and those who inhabit this place a view of the world in all its true complexity.
About the Artist
Whether making a mark on paper, a sculpture for the gallery wall, or an intervention in the public realm, San Antonio-based Ethel Shipton challenges context and draws on the power of the unexpected. In one series, she upholsters basketball hoops, skateboards, baseballs, and axes with colorful vinyl, boldly feminizing traditionally masculine objects. For a public commission at a newly built San Antonio bus transfer, Shipton tinted the station’s windows blue, yellow, red, and green, and applied the words “GRACE,” “LISTEN,” “TALK,” and “FORWARD.” These evocative gestures both softened and activated the otherwise stagnant waiting room, encouraging interaction between the waiting strangers.
Shipton has exhibited at numerous galleries, including Artpace San Antonio, TX, Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM; Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; Shore Institute of Contemporary Art, Long Beach, CA; Austin Museum of Art, TX; Women and Their Work Gallery, Austin, TX; Sala Diaz, San Antonio, TX and Studio Santa Catarina, Mexico City. In 2011, Shipton was awarded Artist Honoree of the year at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum.
Ethel Shipton was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. She received a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989. Ethel worked for the Texas House of Representatives as a photographer for more than eight years. She lived and worked in Mexico City in 1990 and 1992, and then returned to Texas, settling down in San Antonio.
Her practice is informed by a strong conceptual base and encompasses a variety of expressions. Through painting, installation, photography, and text, Shipton spotlights instants of clarity that flit by in the comings and goings of daily life. Past works have centered on ideas of urban scenes, language, and attempts to process information. Time is an important issue of her oeuvre. We can find references to time and images of time throughout her art practice. “Space and time, movement and place I see going hand and hand. These two elements continue to be the groundwork for my artwork. We all continue to move between time and space on a moment-by-moment basis.” – Ethel Shipton