Tamara Becerra Valdez
Tamara Becerra Valdez, founder of Folklorica Botanica and one half of Los Libros Del Futuro, talks about history, hauntings and the wildflower fields in Boerne, Texas.
Los Libros Del Futuro, Tamara Becerra Valdez
Messy hair // soup for breakfast
Salt lamp glow
Tamara Becerra Valdez
Identifying plants while hiking
Heavy heartbeat // overcoming
Chulas Fronteras, Dir. Les Blank — 1976
Human Sciences Residency, Los Libros Del Futuro — 2016
A love story
Shears from Christopher
Most interesting thing in your wallet...
A pair of shears my friend Christopher gave me for my birthday.
In another life, you'd be...
Your lucky charm...
Words to live by...
Be patient with your honeys.
'Triple Tiger Head & Couple' — 3½' x 9
A large beautiful ink drawing by Arrington de Dionyso
To own an El Camino
Your most marked characteristic...
The finger tattoos on my right hand
Gloria Anzaldúa © The University of Arizona Poetry Center
A dream dinner party would be made up of who (dead or alive)...
I’d love to see a large picnic of good stories, good booze and fulfillment with my closest friends and inspiring humans such as Joseph Beuys, Howard Finster, Madonna, Jane Goodall, Pema Chodron, Alan Lomax, Américo Paredes, Paul Stamets, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Mata Amritanandamayi, Gloria Anzaldúa... I’m sure this list could go on.
Black Rieker boots. I’m still unable to find the exact pair to replace my beat up pair.
99 cent stores
Kelly and my Zoom recorder
Under the stars // the wildflower fields in Boerne, Texas
“how to wrap 5 eggs” — Hideyuki Oka
"How to wrap 5 eggs" by Hideyuki Oka
Rudy © Tamara Becerra Valdez
A favorite photo that you've taken.,,
This is a photo of Rudy, a 68 year old resident, who lives on Willow Street in Austin Texas. I had been laying under this massive Trumpet vine and watching the bees dive into its lush reddish orange flowers. Rudy was across the street on his porch and shouted at me. He wanted to know what I was doing under the vine. Just before that I had been walking around the neighborhood gleaning for pecans. It was an abundant season for Texas pecans. Soon after sharing our conversation, I asked to take his portrait. The sun was too bright in his eyes so I asked him to turn around. This photograph will always make me smile.
After, I think I called into work that day.
Joseph Beuys, Documenta V, Kassel (1972) © Wilfred Bauer
A favorite photo that someone else has taken...
It’s raw and romantic. In contrast, there is nothing romantic about Beuys' discussion at that time. He had been in debate and argument when Bauer took this photograph.
Querétaro, Mexico, Tamara Becerra Valdez — 2016
Describe a day in the life of Tamara.
Mornings are casual. i wake up with my dog, Byrd. Breakfast is often papaya, guayaba, mango, strawberries and bananas with amaranth, cacao, chia, coconut, bee pollen, cranberries and any nuts in the pantry. I can have this fruit salad many times a day if I dont want to leave the house.
Many full days are in the work space at López 44 planning a juggle of projects. We work only blocks away from Bellas Artes in a beautiful art deco edificio that was built in the 1930’s. It is such a special place with a large space to work big and messy and a lovely sunroom to relax in a hammock.
Many days include taking walks downtown and exploring the streets and stores for materials to use in our books, reading and writing.
These days I wake up late with little apology and stay working late into the night.
I will get to bed around 2am some days.
Folklorica Inciensio de 4 Colores — Chulas Fronteras (1976) Dir. Les Blank
Your work is deeply connected to texas. Talk about this.
Texas is far and wide with an incredibly beautiful landscape with many histories untold. I was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. Its a small coastal town in South Texas. My mother's side of the family has been living in Texas since the early 1700's. My Tejana roots are here and I hope continue to spend more work and time in connecting with the heritage of this state. A goal in my work is to connect the locale, tradition and folkways of Texas into the experiments in my studio and apothecary.
Balmorhea State Park — 1938
Tell me about your time in the trans-pecos area of West Texas.
Last year I made several visits to west Texas. many of those times I joined friends who were on tour playing music. Some of my best life memories were shared out there. One memorable visit our friends and I packed like sardines in a van and drove in the middle of the night to west Texas.
We wanted to arrive in Balmorhea for the sunrise and jump in the pool for a celebratory swim. We swam in the morning and drove through the mountains to Marfa, Texas to meet with a close friend. We took over a beautiful house with our good company, cooked meals every night, drank good booze with new friends and old friends, rekindled compassion and danced on chairs to the Beach Boys. I think we passed around sparkling rosé two times not enough that weekend. During the trip, we were caught in a heavy rainstorm during our hike in the Davis Mountains. We took shelter under a small bridge. The rain stopped and we trekked back to the van. But the rain caught us and we all screamed, laughed and ran for joy. We were soaking wet and there was nothing to do but laugh at each other. It was one of the best trips to west Texas. I know there will be many more.
In Marfa, everyone cuts loose a bit. You forgive yourself, let go and find resolution among friendships new and old. Everyone needs to head west every now and then.
The Schizophrenic Project
Tell me about The Bureau of Memories.
The Bureau of Memories was an exhibition curated by a collective called, Ethnographic Terminalia. The exhibition took place last December in Washington DC at HIERARCHY.
To quote the collective of the exhibition statement,
'Where there is history, there is haunting. By drawing on the archive’s unnerving, uncanny, and ephemeral specters, this exhibition is an effort to re-imagine and reposition archives as sites which not only have the capacity to produce and contest historical memory, but also generate significant gaps and blind spots.'
In the Bureau of Memories, I participated with a group of colleagues on a project called, The Schizophonic Archive. The project featured interrelated ethnographic/folklore based sound recordings from the turn of the century, residual media collected and archives. Most importantly, The Schizophonic Archive highlighted the role machines play in making the ephemeral tangible and repeatable through devices like a re-invented telephone receiver. It was a really fantastic project. We will be doing another showing at the end of the year with new audio and a new presentation of ideas.
“Ode to the Desert: a field guide to the chihuahua desert”
Tell me about your Field Guide to the Chihuahua Desert.
The field guide to the chihuahua desert is for the curious visitor who wants to know more about west Texas than the Marfa Lights, Donald Judd and other well known activity. It is for the explorer who wants to know about the land they are walking on and the natural occurrences and exchanges that keep the desert an incredible place. The screen printed pamphlet folds out like a map, however, you won't see any cardinal directions or roads leading you to specific places.
The guide features native plant profiles from some of the most prolific medicinals of the Pecos region, herbal preparations for the adventurous, drawings, poetry and Texas inspired folk songs. Printed on the inside of the guide is a large poster of the Sierra Madre Mountains alongside a vaquero and his horse.
Los Libros Del Futuro
Tell me about Los Libros Del Futuro...
LOS LIBROS DEL FUTURO is an editorial project started by Luis Safa and I. Together, it is a way to pursue unusual projects in print, design, education, art and philosophy. Our classes emphasize philosophy and art practice. Our classes are inspired by books we want to make and sometimes our ideas shared in our classes inspire us to make books. There is an exciting cyclical movement in the project.
LLF identifies itself through Luis and I's cultural and political identities across borders. Our objective in LOS LIBROS DEL FUTURO is to give light and expansion to subjects, people and places that are underrepresented, left behind or erased. We are eager for this material to be recollected topics for the future.
Los Libros Del Futuro
Talk about future projects...
I’ve been brainstorming on a series of guides like 'Ode to the Desert...' for several different regions in Texas. The next one will focus on the piney woods of East Texas. This summer I will be exhibiting new works for an exhibition that will feature 8 new, up and coming young Latino artists selected by guest curator and artist, Ricky Yanas (Philadelphia).
I see more opportunity in my projects for creative growth and refinement to my apothecary, Botanicals Folklorica.
Talk about a dream project...
I’d love to highlight a tour across Texas of several visionary artists, young and old, making art. I want to find the artists that are overlooked and deserve recognition. I want to meet them, take their portrait and record their stories.