Bella Maria Varela

Bella Maria Varela 

Arizona artist Bella Maria Varela has been selected as summer artist in residence by the Border Art Residency.

“It is an absolute privilege to be able to work on the border. I am excited to listen and learn from El Pasoans about their experiences in such an important city,” Bella said in a statement.

Her residency started June 1 and runs through Aug. 1.

Based in Tucson, Varela graduated in May from the University of Arizona School of Art, where she received a master’s in photo video imaging. Varela was raised in Washington, D.C., and is the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants. Her work incorporates video, installation, and photography to explore the intersection of immigration, family, and gender identity in American history and popular culture.

“Her work is about finding and altering found objects, assembling them with archival footage and thrifted objects, and creating new meanings and hybrid identities,” Kate Feuille, president of the art organization’s board of directors, said in a statement. “Our region is a place of intersection, so I look forward to seeing how the Borderland will inspire the work Bella creates.”


Varela plans to spend her residency expanding her photography project @border_becky, a series that combines performance with fleece blanket assemblages meant to reflect her identity as a first-generation queer Guatemalan-American woman. Her project was recently exhibited at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. 

Formerly based in La Union, New Mexico, the Border Art Residency is now at 801 N. Piedras and is an affiliate of the El Paso Community Foundation.

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