Texture Presidio – Yosdy Valdivia

Artist Yosdy Valdivia. Photo by Hannah Gentiles.

Texture Presidio uses the art of photography and storytelling to explore and highlight the textures and tales that make Presidio County and the surrounding desert landscape both beautifully ordinary and unique. Each column will feature a new person, place or event. 

Walking through the future studio of local artist Yosdy Valdivia, I felt inspired. The sun was setting in Ojinaga in the magical way it only seems to do there, often with a kickup of dirt making a hazy filter through the reflections of the falling light. The fenced backyard of the casita, which holds two anxious pups, sits behind her grandparents’ grocery/hardware store on the outskirts of Ojinaga. It is adorned with ancient-looking nopales, immense paddles in shapes I’d never seen before, and young citrus trees working on producing their first fruit. Her abuelo rooted the nopales many years ago, but the citrus was a new contribution to the space, planted by Valdivia herself. Behind the clusters of nopales, one can see the beginning stages of a gorgeous studio space, designed with large windows and plenty of room to create. It is coming along slowly –– bit by bit, Valdivia jokes, “As is the Ojinaga way.” Valdivia’s connection to this space is deeply felt; it can easily be seen how that connection will bring even more inspiration to her beautiful work. 

Her grandparents’ grocery store contains one of Valdivia’s five murals that span either side of the Rio Grande. Once a blank wall, she claimed the space to paint an homage to her grandparents. The image depicts a younger version of her abuela and abuelo selling fruit from a cart on the street, where they first began. The colors are somehow both subdued and vibrant, a balance Valdivia masters beautifully. 

Valdivia grew up between Presidio and Ojinaga, and explained that growing up between the two countries, between “two different, yet similar” cultures, impacted her creative development.

“I learned how to perfect my art thanks to my American schooling, but I‘ve reflected everything I love and appreciate from Mexico into my work,” she said. “It all began with me learning how to draw in Presidio, and all of my drawing and painting work has been influenced not just by Ojinaga but México in general. I find my culture very comforting, rich and easy to find inspiration in.” 

She dreams of the day she will have her own studio and gallery space to showcase her work.

“There’s not a day I don’t think about owning my own gallery,” she said. “My studio is still in the works, but I constantly picture what I want it to look like in my head. I imagine myself working on huge paintings and later walking outside to my garden to ponder. And just like any other artist, I hope to showcase my art around interesting places; I feel like I have so much to show, but it seems like it’s not the right time just yet. I know it, but I am learning to be patient and understand things such as ‘right timing.’” 


Jorge Avena, Valdivia’s middle school art teacher, combined discipline with her burgeoning talent and was the first to encourage her to take her interest seriously. Entering high school, she describes her increasing passion for art as “extra.” Laurie Holman, the high school art teacher, would meet her there, fostering her artistic aptitude. At Ms. Holman’s encouragement, Valdivia began submitting her work to various competitions. One of her winnings sent her to the Western Art Academy in Kerrville, where she spent two months creating and eventually sold a couple of pieces from her time there. Several years later, she’d be reunited with that work, finding the first piece she sold at a local thrift store. She confessed she was relieved to have found it, having regretted selling it in the first place.  

Choosing Ms. Holman as the muse for a recent piece, she’d finally get to show her former teacher and good friend her gratitude. 

Miguel Valverde –– an artist based out of Chihuahua, Mexico –– invited Valdivia to participate in an art exhibit in Brussels. The Color of the Sage was a collective of artists from Ojinaga and Oaxaca. They chose their personal “sage” as their subjects. Valdivia chose Ms. Holman. 

Valverde’s work includes the music sculpture corridor in Ojinaga, including several larger-than-life musical instruments adorning 8th Street. (I’m partial to the accordion.) Valdivia finds much inspiration in his ever-growing body of extensive work, and so deeply appreciated a visit to his studio space that it inspired the creation of her own.

Valdivia was working on a friend’s wall in a new style when I visited. She showed me how she uses spray paint as the first layer and will return with acrylic paint to sharpen lines. It’s a poetic, pattern-like assortment of desert-inspired shapes floating around one another. 

At the final mural in Ojinaga, each artist was given a block of white space on the wall surrounding the Kindergarten Rosaura. Valdivia’s designated square is an homage to women, to mothers. She’d been noticing with more frequency the immense ways women show up — for families, for the community. Walking kids to school, buying groceries, etc. The mural depicts a woman at the market because, as she says, “It’s always women; they do everything.” 

She shared the profoundly personal backstory of her favorite work to date, made a year ago: “It’s more like a personal painting based on a love affair I had, I considered it what they call a twin flame because I was learning a bit about mysticism around that time. Real or not, my experience was so powerful that it took a toll on me. We learned so much about each other, our lives are very similar, and we loved each other so much that distance had to eventually break us off. I was heartbroken but happy to have the opportunity to live that experience … During my heartbreak, I painted. I portrayed two different and beautiful souls wandering in the desert. It’s hard for me to put in words, but I only know what it feels. And that was that; this work is just my favorite.”

Time spent with Valdivia is a delight; she is charismatic, with both a trusting confidence and a charming humility, which can be felt in her work. She holds such reverence for her culture and pride for both places she’s from, yet such a curiosity for what the rest of the world has to offer. I think this will take her far. 

“I would like to invite people to come to Presidio and Ojinaga and check it out. They are definitely very wonderful little towns. I could say both places are perfect for raising a family, where we advocate inclusion, respect, love, and pride. We have so much to give and so much potential.”

Find Valdivia’s work at www.yosdy.com –– and follow her on Instagram: yosdyvaldivia 

Hannah Gentiles is a photographer and formally a trained social worker who has lived in Presidio County since January 2015. She runs “Texture Presidio,” a photo essay-based storytelling project, and now lives in Presidio. To find out more about Texture Presidio and her photography, visit https://www.hannahgentiles.com/texturepresidio or ig:texturepresidio