December 13, 2023 546 PM
EL PASO — Paintings by Marfa artist Malinda Beeman will be on view at the El Paso Museum of Art beginning this Friday, December 15, as part of the 2024 Border Biennial exhibition.
The juried exhibition features over 50 artists living on the U.S./Mexico border and explores their diverse experiences of gender, race, politics, the environment and more. Beeman, the only artist selected from the Big Bend area, will have two paintings of grasslands on view.
Beeman has a masters degree in printmaking and taught at the University of Houston before moving to Marfa. She is known locally for her work at the Marfa Studio of Arts and with the Marfa Saturday Market.
Both of Beeman’s selected works — 24 x 36 acrylic paintings titled “Indian Grasses” — were completed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Beeman. “It was a strange time to be an artist, wondering what to paint and why you should paint it,” she said.
Those questions led her to further consider the environment of the Marfa grasslands. Beeman, who lives in the Antelope Hills area, frequently walks around her property and captures photographs of the grasses which inspired the paintings.
“My work considers the environment which is unique here, the Chihuahuan Desert, but also the juxtaposition of it being next to the border and the political, human implications” said Beeman.
The realistic golden and blue-hued depictions of the grasses situate the viewer “deeply enmeshed in the natural world,” as Beeman puts it, from a vantage point of one hidden within the fields. The works are symbolic of the migration of not only people, but of plants and animals, she said.
“It’s a world that, I think, we tend to look past and not really realize the rich and very complex nature of these grasslands,” said Beeman. “It supports animals and all kinds of life.”
The role the grassland landscape plays in the migration of undocumented individuals was of particular interest to Beeman, she said. She hopes her feelings of compassion for those taking their lives into their hands to cross into the U.S. comes through in the work, she said.
“The grasses are part of the texture of what they encounter and what they have to walk through,” said Beeman. “What I hope is that my work was chosen because it was a different viewpoint, but a heartfelt one.”
For more information, visit epma.art/art/exhibitions/2024-border-biennial