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Artist's Statement

Mandy Cano Villalobos

VOCES Calvin CollegeVoces ("Voices") addresses the mass femicide of Chihuahua, Mexico.  Beginning with the first documented victims in 1993, I embroider the names of individual women into white blouses.  The pink thread with which I sew references the pink crosses erected throughout Ciudad Juarez to commemorate the dead.  As the murders continue, embroidered shirts amass upon the floor.

Voces stems from my childhood experience residing in El Paso, Texas,the border town directly opposite Juarez.  I find a jarring incongruence between my fond memories of Juarez and the city I now hear about on the news.  Shock, disgust and sorrow confronted me when I first became aware of the femicides. The majority of victims are raped, beaten, and tortured, their bodies discarded in the dessert or left by the highway.  Motives range from gang initiation rituals and sport killings to domestic abuse. 

I have dedicated the last four years to embroidering the names of each victim and looking into the individual stories of their lives.  In this way, the act of sewing has become an act of commemoration and mourning.  As the needle pierces each shirt, the suffering of each woman is lamented and recorded in thread. Though their lives and bodies have been so carelessly discarded, these women are not forgotten.  The time taken to hand-stitch one name is a time taken to remember one person; it is to lovingly declare, “No, you are not forgotten.  I remember you.  I value you.” 

Voces also breaks down the boundaries of culture and location, and presents the Chihuahua femicides as a very real dilemma to a United States audience. Combating our tendencies to generalize and distance ourselves from ‘the Other,’ the project invites viewers to empathize with our continental neighbor and reminds them that these women are fellow humans who have suffered within a system that we all live in and have created.

Art as Protest

Art as Protest from Calvin College on Vimeo.

VOCES Events


October 26-December 15
Center Art Gallery, Covenant Fine Arts Center (CFAC)

Artist Talk and Reception

Friday, October 26 @ 7:00 PM
**Special musical performance by Latin folk group, Villalobos

Sewing Circles

Fridays from November 2-December 7
Sewing circles will meet on Fridays to continue embroidering shirts in honor of those who have died. If interested in participating, contact Megan McCrary (

Guest Lecture by Marisela Ortiz

Thursday, November 1 @ 3:30 PM
CFAC Recital Hall

Film Screening

Film Screening: Juárez: la ciudad donde las mujeres son desechables/Juárez: the City Where the Women are Disposable
Thursday, November 15 @ 3:30 PM
Speolhof 150

VOCES sponsors: CCCS, Calvin Alumni Association, the department of Art & Art History, the department of Spanish, the department of Sociology & Social Work, Gender Studies, and the Pailalen Program, Lutheran Child & Family Service of Michigan

VOCES at the (e)merge art fair in Washington, DC

The VOCES installation will be at the (e)merge art fair in Washington, DC October 4-7, 2012.

Resources About Femicide

Voices in Dialogue: Women, Art, and Justice

A personal essay by the artist on the creation of VOCES.

Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a CasaNuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa a.c. (May Our Daughters Return Home)

This organization is co-founded by VOCES guest lecturer Marisela Ortiz. When you enter the site it is in Spanish and you may select to view the site in English by clicking on "Inglés."

Amigos de las Mujeres de Juárez (English)

This grass-roots organization is on the US side of the border and is in English.

This link is to a personal anecdote about a family member of victim Minerva Torres (English)

Banco Datos Feminicidio (Spanish only)

This is a link to information about femicide in Juárez. The site is much broader and covers Latin America by region.

Javier Juárez, Periodista Y Escritror (Spanish only)

Until late 2011, this Spanish writer (from Spain) posted information about missing women on his blog.