The artist’s urge to elaborate on identity extends into the everyday of her studio, where she crafts fiber art pieces that are as intersectional as herself. While Zapata’s extended family is split between Peru and the United States, she was born and raised in Texas, where she often felt isolated from her Peruvian heritage. In response, Zapata began learning traditional craft skills that she still employs in her work today. To create her lively, shaggy, and colorfully loud sculptures, she combines Peruvian weaving techniques and American rug-making traditions. The resulting cross-cultural objects become a way to connect her body to the craftworks women have been performing in Peru for hundreds of years.
For her first solo show with Deli Gallery in March 2017, Zapata titled the exhibition after Simon and Garfunkel’s 1970 hit “If I Could (El Condor Pasa),” which samples a Peruvian piece of music. The conversation between Peruvian and American culture attracted the artist to the song, as well as the title’s nod to self-reproach. “There’s all these verses in Psalms talking about the ‘good woman’ and how she works with wool and performs honest labor,” Zapata says, rolling her eyes. “I’m originally from Texas and was born into a very strict evangelical Christian household, so being a lesbian, I just have a lot of guilt.”
Plenty of honest labor is embedded in each of her works––whether Zapata is coiling yarn (a technique in which you continuously wrap fibers around each other) or weaving threads on a loom. Though her art is not conceptually dependent upon how long she spends making it, labor is an invaluable currency for Zapata.