Collaboratively, artist Marta Sánchez and poet Norma E. Cantú presented the Transcendental Train Yard, a “literary-art-work” from America’s borderland, with essay corroborant, Peter Haney.
The book presentation concluded the Latino/Latina Studies First Annual Research Symposium in the Miller Nichols Library Friday.
The 10 serigraphs created by Sánchez, with Cantú’s poetry surrounding the work, took seven years to make. Sánchez defined the collaboration in the book’s Artist’s Statement.
“Dr. Cantú would offer poems responding to my prints, and I would then respond to her poems with new prints,” wrote Sánchez.
Dr. Norma E. Cantú, noted author, poet, and professor of English and Latina/Latino Studies at UMKC described borderlands culture.
“The railroad is a signifier, an icon, a metaphor for a lot of things in our community. One is hope, joy, the opportunity that it signifies. When you come on a train you’re going to a new world. On the other hand, in recent years the train has also become a negative force, a place of death. Mostly it is the undocumented,” said Cantú.
Artist Marta Sánchez grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where she watched an active train yard from her parents’ front porch. Sánchez recalled her childhood fascination with art.
“I would always draw what was in front of me as a child. Trains were in front of me.”
Sánchez’s friend, Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, pushed her to work on the Mexican experience by way of trains. Ybarra-Frausto wrote the book’s preface and described Sánchez and Cantú’s work.
“Their expressionistic, dreamlike representations bring to consciousness reservoirs of feelings and primordial images from the Mexican collective unconscious,” wrote Ybarra-Frausto.
Trains are, in many ways, a connecting experience for America’s community, throughout the 1900s and Cantú described a local example.
“The Latino community in Kansas City came because of the railroad, to work on the railroad,” said Cantú.
Sánchez delighted the 40 audience members by telling how her grandfather, a lion-tamer met her grandmother, a dancer. Trains provided their transportation.
Dr. Peter Haney, Latin American and Carribean Studies at the University of Kansas, spoke about the nostalgia many feel for trains. The “Carpas” community, theatrical performers, often families, traveled by trains until the, “Great Depression.” At that time, they began traveling by cars, while train ridership steadily declined.