Women of San Antonio: A Tribute Show

Women of San Antonio: A Tribute Show

Women of San Antonio

The Women of San Antonio​ are healers, artists, revolutionaries, mothers, politicians, teachers, philanthropists, health care professionals, athletes, entrepreneurs, and forward-­thinkers. Each of these women represent the most powerful narratives and most riveting movements in San Antonio. Anel I. Flores of ARTery Studios and Sarah Castillo of Lady Base Gallery have collaborated to give you a peek through the lens of San Antonio’s best women photographers at the Women of San Antonio​: A Tribute Show​​exhibition. Nine women photographers will be featured in the show: Katherine Brown, Sarah Castillo, Lauryn Farris, Anel I. Flores, Mari Hernandez, Destiny Mata, Kristel Puente, Daniela Riojas, Tk Karakshian Tunchez, Laura Varela and Magdalena Yznaga.

Each portrait explores the Women of San Antonio in unconventional and conventional styles and techniques, as their energy is the driving force behind each photo. “San Antonio was and still is being built by the hands of women. I dreamt up the vision for this show because of a longing I have for these women to be honored and showcased in the elegance and rawness of photography.” Co­Curator Anel I. Flores of ARTery studio states. “And, who better to take the pictures then the women photographers who are also building this city with every snap of their lens.” Flores and Castillo have teamed up to curate an intimate spectacle of striking images that will evoke emotional connections, nostalgic memories, and enlightening experiences. “This exhibit represents the strength, mentorship, and bond women of varying generations cultivate and these relationships can be observed between the photographer and the sitter.” Castillo believes. “I chose to be a part of this exhibition because it’s important to actively participate in reframing the strength women convey within their community. Also, this show is part visual storytelling and documentation which are important cultural platforms.”



Below is a list of all the woman, these photographers have chosen to photograph.

Graciela I. Sánchez, director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center is a native of San Antonio and a dedicated activista and cultural worker. After graduating from Yale University in 1982, Sánchez returned to her childhood neighborhood on the near west side of San Antonio, where she remains a dedicated community organizer. In the 1980s, Sánchez worked with the Southwest Voter Registration Project, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and Chicana Health Policy Development. As an organizer in the queer community, she became a founding board member of the San Antonio Lesbian Gay assembly, the San Antonio Lesbian/Gay Media Project, and ELLAS, a state and local Latina lesbian organization. In 1987 Sánchez joined other women in founding the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, which she still directs.


Michelle Claire Myers was president of Texas Association for Transsexual Support for many years, a retired chemical engineer who spoke three languages, knew several computer languages, served on the boards of several organizations and mentored, guided and advised many people who were embarking on their gender journey. The Trailblazing San Antonio Trans-leader passed away on June 17, 2013.  

Rev. Naomi Brown, LMSW is a Licensed Masters-level Social worker with over 20 years of experience in Social Services. Naomi organizes and delivers LGBTQIA Safe Zone Training throughout the San Antonio Community and works as a Trauma Therapist. Her clinical hours are spent seeing many gender-queer individuals who live with PTSD and other traumatic experiences.

Ruby Mae Krebs is the first transgender candidate to seek office in San Antonio for city council served many years as the president of the San Antonio Gender Association.  Krebs political career started when she was volunteering for the Hillary Clinton campaign and while serving as Chair for Precinct 4001.

Debora Kuetzpal Vasquez is a multimedia artist and educator from San Antonio who reimagines archetypal myths from a Xicana feminist lens. Her work in painting, ceramics, collage, installation, and film have been shown in over 100 exhibitions worldwide, and include cartoon character Citlali, La Chicana Super Hero.

Mary Agnes Rodriguez, born and raised in San Antonio’s Westside, is recognized throughout the community for her beautiful and iconic artwork. Her murals and canvases are known locally and nationally for the deep ways they reflect the artist’s personal, historical and cultural connections to the Westside community. She has exhibited her work in numerous museums and cultural centers. Through her organizing work, personal engagement with community, and most of all through her arte, Mary Agnes has worked tirelessly and unselfishly for her community over the years.

Carmen Tafolla is a poet, author, teacher, educational consultant, and sought-after speaker and performer. A native of the West-Side barrios of San Antonio, Texas, Tafolla earned a BA, MA, a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin.  Tafolla has published five books of poetry, eight children’s picture books, seven television screenplays, one non-fiction volume, and a collection of short stories. She also co-authored with filmographer Sylvia Morales a feature-length film comedy entitled REAL MEN… and other miracles. Her works are archived at the University of Texas Benson Latin American Collection. The recipient of many honors, she  served as the Inaugural Poet Laureate of San Antonio in 2014 and currently serves as the Texas State Poet Laureate for 2015.

Veronica Castillo-Salas, the 2013 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow,  is a  third-generation clay artist, born in Izucar de Matamoros in the Mexican state of Puebla. Castillo’s family is known for their creation of Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life) and candelabra sculptures, an art form which originated in Mexico’s Puebla area. Ceramicist and Clay Sculptor, Veronica follows in her family’s artistic footsteps while redefining the tradition and making it her own.  She is owner and founder of Galeria E.V.A.: Echos Y Voces de Arte.

Norma Cantú, Professor, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&I at Laredo and Kingsville, respectively, and her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She was a senior arts administrator with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC and was Acting Chair of the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Dr. Cantú has published articles on a number or academic subjects as well as poetry and fiction. Her publications on border literature, the teaching of English, quinceañera celebration and the matachines, a religious dance tradition have earned her an international reputation as a scholar and folklorist. She has co-edited four books and edited a collection of testimonios by Chicana scientists, mathematicians and engineers. Her award winning Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera chronicles her childhood experiences on the border. She edits the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Culture and Traditions book series at The Texas A&M University Press.

Elaine Ayala is a prominent figure in the newspaper industry. Over the past 33 years, she has been a reporter, an editor, a blogger, and a columnist. Over the course of her career, she has worked for 6 different metropolitan dailies. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the Arizona Daily Star, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, the Austin American-Statesman, the El Paso Times, and most recently, the San Antonio Express-News, where she has been for the last 16 years. In 2009, Ayala was the winner for the Philip True Award for Reporter of the Year, which was given by her peers at the Express-News. Also in 2009, she was honored as a role model by the Martinez Street Women’s Center. Ayala has also received the IMAGE of San Antonio Award, the Governor’s Yellow Rose of Texas Award was also presented to Ayala. In 2005, Ayala was inducted into the Edgewood Independent School District’s Hall of Fame

Dolores Zapata Murff and Magdalena Alvarado are a feminista power in San Antonio. Dolores, or Dee, is a Feminist Licensed Professional Counselor Intern. A graduate of Our Lady of the Lake and Texas A&M Universities, she has achieved her lifetime dream to help wymin heal from domestic violence and rape using Expressive Arts with an emphasis in Journaling and visual arts. Dolores is currently working at Enlightened Behavioral Services, where she shares her passion for art with patients who suffer from severe mental illness and chemical addiction. She is a visual artist, sculptor, poet, and activist. In the 1960’s Magdalena called herself a “wild-haired activist” as she block-walked to encourage her latino community to vote. Soon after, in college, she began her journalism career with an opinion column titled Juana Gallo. “I thought I could change the world. But then I realized in Journalism you report events you don’t change events, and I wanted to be a change agent.” From that day forward, Magdalena plunged herself into careers with over 30 non-profits, making change.

Patricia Castillo leads the P.E.A.C.E Initiative (Putting an End to Abuse through Community Efforts) as executive director with the goal of eliminating domestic violence. She has worked more than two decades to end violence against women and children. As the Executive Director of the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative, she continues to do this work as well as serve as an advocate, educator and technical assistance resource to many sectors of the community, including civic, legal, medical, religious, educational, human resource and media groups; and directs citizen coalitions and networks. Ms. Castillo has also done casework with inmate women and their children through the Bexar County Adult Detention Center, and with crime victims and their families at the San Antonio Police Department, where she was the first social worker ever assigned to the Sex Crimes Unit of the Homicide Bureau. Nationally, she has trained and educated at numerous domestic violence conferences in the past 13 years. Internationally, she has trained in Honduras, Brazil, China, Russia, Guatemala, and Mexico. In Mexico, she has worked with the National Network of Shelters, Alternativas Pacificas, a battered womens’ shelter in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, and done trainings in Mexico City, Cancun, and Monterrey.

María Antonietta Berriozábal was born in Laredo, Texas, in 1941 just one block north of the Rio Grande. She writes that this “sealed [her] fate as a proud woman of the borderlands.” In 1981 she became the first Latina to be elected to the City Council of San Antonio, where she served for a decade. In 1991 she narrowly lost a race for Mayor of San Antonio. In 1994 she received a presidential appointment as the U.S. Representative to the Inter-American Commission on Women of the Organization of American States (OAS). She represented her country at United Nations Conferences and at the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing, China in 1995. For most of her adult years María Berriozábal has been committed to the empowerment of Latinas and she founded several Latina organizations. Today, María continues her community activism on issues of social justice, peace and the environment. She continues to work on behalf of the immigrant community and remains committed to the work of mentoring the young.

Eva Ybarra, the “Queen of the Accordion,” is one of a few women accordionists who have become professionals in a style that has traditionally been dominated by men. When she was 4, her father presented her with a small accordion. Migrant laborers, but also musicians, her parents were thrilled that Eva took interest in the accordion and now had an alternative to working in the fields. At age 6, she began performing with her parents around town, helping them earn extra money. By her late teens, she had mastered the instrument and was proving many wrong about the capabilities of a woman accordionist. She recorded two CDs on Rounder Records A Mi San Antonio (1994) and Romance Inolvidable (1996). Most of the songs are written by Eva and demonstrate her virtuosity and creativity. In 1997 she went to the University of Washington as a visiting artist in the Ethnomusicology Department. Currently, she teaches at Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio and works on various projects with Smithsonian Folklife.

Antonia Castañeda, Tejana born feminist historian received her Ph.D. in U.S. History at Stanford University. Now retired, she taught in Chicana/o and Women’s Studies at UC Santa Barbara, and in the Departments of History at UT Austin and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Castañeda’s scholarly publications include the prizing winning “Women of Color and the Re-Writing of Western History.” She is co-editor of the Chicana Matters Series, University of Texas Press; is a founding member of MALCS (Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social); is a member of the Scholars Advisory Board of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project; serves on the Board of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center; and is former Chair of the San Antonio Commission on Literacy. Castañeda received the 2007 National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies Scholar of the Year Award.

Petra Mata, Viola Cazares and Ernestina Mendoza were three of the many women that mobilized the women to form the non-profit cooperative Fuerza Unida. For 25 years their community center  at 710 New Laredo Hwy has spent its days empowering women through their women’s leadership center, their  sewing cooperative, a catering business, their teen leadership summer program and with their community food bank- just to name a few. I have seen them for 20+ years marching proud in numerous marches and protest through the streets of San Antonio, cheering and chanting, “Mujeres unidas, jamás serán vencidas,” and waving signs demanding justice and equality for all women. Viola is a recipient of the prestigious Ohtli award given by the Mexican government for her dedication in helping organize local, national and international communities for the past 20 years. Petra Mata is the recipient of the Alston/Bannerman Fellowship for longtime activists. Ernestina Mendoza passed away at the age of 62 after working tirelessly with Fuerza Unida.

Deborah Myers & Nickie Valdez, on June 26, at 10:41 a.m., after a 30 year relationship, were a few of the first LGBTQ couples in the United States to receive their marriage license at the San Antonio Bexar County Courthouse.They are Co-Founders of Dignity San Antonio, Long TIme LGBTQ Activists, Stonewall Democrats, Organizers of First Gay Pride Parade in San Antonio, among many other events.

La Cleopatra – Cleopatra has had so many cancer procedures and never complains. I admire her for her uniquely positive endurance and strength as a Survivor.

Melinda Brown – I chose my mother as she has always been an inspiration to me even through my rough ‘cancer’ years.




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