Priscilla Dobler Dzul
Born in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Priscilla Dobler Dzul is a textile artist and sculptor. She returns functional objects to their fundamentals, reinterpreting these objects’ meaning through alternative, expository methods of re-construction. Dobler Dzul’s practice cultivates a dialogue between practical and conceptual perceptions of craft and fine art traditions, investigating how a globalized society influences formations of identity.
The artist's dual Native Mayan and Scottish-German heritage motivates this exploration, as she reflects on her own, often alienating privilege of mobility between cultural existences. El Volkswagen scrutinizes the industrial history of the iconic German vehicle, first produced during World War II. Dobler Dzul rebuilds the car with indigenous, agricultural, thread-based techniques, promoting customs that were abandoned with the development of synthetic materials for mass consumption.
Dobler Dzul has exhibited at the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle; Decentered Gallery, Puebla, Mexico; Project for Empty Space, New York; TAG Gallery, Los Angeles; Williamsburg Art and Historical Society, New York; Marfa Contemporary Gallery, Marfa; Currents New Media, Santa Fe; Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, among numerous others.
ARTIST STATEMENT, El Volkswagen
When I think of iconic objects and images in Mexican culture, the Volkswagen always comes to mind. During my childhood, the Volkswagen was a status symbol, the Mexican dream. Yet the seductive beauty, color and engineering hide a dark, violent past.
Designed in Germany during the 1930s, Volkswagen was technologically innovative and became popular all over the world. However, production coincided with the height of the Nazi regime, overlapping with World War II and the genocide and sterilization of Jews in the name of science.
Volkswagen was the first large corporation to enter the exploitative mode of “Maquiladoras,” or “Twin Plants.” The firm brought American auto parts into Mexico for the cheap, often child-dependent, production labor. Once finished, the vehicles would return to the U.S. to be sold. Many companies have since adopted this “Maquiladoras” method, taking advantage of Mexican workers. This life-sized reproduction highlights the Beetle’s seduction and its harm, part of a larger damaging industrial history. El Volkswagen acknowledges this centuries-long legacy of cultural exchange, but also the decline of Indigenous languages, creative customs, and textile production methods. The domineering footprint of the mass-market textile trade endangers artisanship within many cultures. The development of synthetic fibers and consequential poor working conditions for industrial plantation and factory workers has led to chronic health problems and abandonment of significant cultural customs. Prioritizing and globalizing consumption, histories of manufacturing conceal a dark narrative of exploited labor and environmental deterioration.