Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Fernando Castro Pacheco
Mexican, 1918-2013
Working with Ixtle (Trabajando con ixtle)
from the portfolio Mexican People (Gente Mexicana), 1946
15 ¼ x 17 ½ in.
Gift of anonymous donor
Collection of the Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University

WORK – A CURSE OR A BLESSING?  by Gabriela Dieguez

“Working with Ixtle” is a lithograph from Fernando Castro Pacheco part of the collection “What is Hispanic?” at the Haggerty museum.  The picture was made back in 1946 and tells the story of a woman working vegetable fibers on a loom. This is also the story of many workers from the present that we can meet in Wisconsin. As a social worker I have heard countless stories of life in Mexico, of the hardships that force people to migrate north and their adaptation to new lives in the U.S. 
This pictures talks about the importance of work.  In the picture the spectator can see that the woman is a hard worker.  The land seems barren with no plants even the tree from where her thread hangs has no leaves.  In order to collect the vegetables fibers to make the ixtle this worker has taken countless hours walking and carrying the plants towards her home.  The picture also shows behind a small tent where a woman and a child observe. Making sure the tent provides protection from sun and rain requires maintenance, it is all hard work. It is  possible that the woman on this picture uses the thread to make fabric and her work then can be used to make clothes. 
For most people work provides us with a sense of identity. And this identity is transformed when we migrate.  When I hear stories from migrants I am inspired by their strength and flexibility.  I have met shoemakers that here become factory workers, I have met doctors that here become office cleaners, and I also have met migrants that finish their studies in the U.S and go on to accomplish their dreams.  Work provides people the means to live and sustain their family.  Work is also part of who we are and how we perceive ourselves as part of our community and the way we contribute for the well being of society.  The work we each do is valuable and essential for our countries. Work done with passion and with full awareness of its importance in the functioning of a community, city, and country is work that brings us pride and happiness.

Gabriela Dieguez is from Guatemala; she and her family escaped from her home country during the Reagan sponsored civil wars in Central America. Gabrela is married and a mother of two university students. She is a social worker in Milwaukee at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center.

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