Making Her Mark on Culture Through Clay 

Fort Worth artist Karla García shapes the story of migration and resiliency with her sculptures.

By Beth Hutson

Making art with my hands, leaving marks on clay, being in the studio, creating, and exploring, is so fulfilling.” 

Artist Karla García has been drawn to art since she was a child although she was not fully aware of what that meant. She pursued a career path in design and communications, but with long hours at her desk, she realized something was missing. 

A former boss took her to a ceramics workshop, and it just clicked. Fascinated by the possibilities, she enrolled in the ceramics program at University of North Texas where she focused on researching Mexican cultural history and exploring its impact within her own life. 

“Women and their resiliency inspire me. In my early work, I was inspired by my mother and our journey,” Karla remembers. “I linked symbols of cultural history, such as the cornhusk related to Meso-American mythology and ideas of creation, and connected it to my mother’s role as a protector, provider and her importance to me as we both came to the United States.” 

Her migration story began to expand into the concept of place –  the desert where she grew up in Juarez, Mexico, and later across the border in El Paso, Texas. “Both are part of the same landscape, yet a different reality for each,” Karla explains. Within this duality, she began to connect the landscape through sculptural objects, such as the work she creates now. 

Her art speaks of not only of her individual experience through form and landscape but also about the diverse histories of people. When she uses the cactus in her work, it’s to connect it to a larger discussion about Mexican or Mexican American identity. “In a way, my work is about resisting division and understanding the larger conversation about immigrant stories,” she says. 

Karla hopes to empower women in art by reminding them that they have the ability to make their own opportunities. “Believe in your work and be around people who support you,” she advises. “Build your network, and the rest will fall into place.”

She continues to focus on ceramic works and clay drawings and is currently part of an Latinx art exhibition, Soy de Tejas at Centro de Artes, in San Antonio through June. Locally her work can be viewed at 12.26 Gallery in Dallas. 

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