The mission of the Arbol de la Vida: Voces de Tierra project is to celebrate San Antonio’s ranching heritage through the eyes of the community. This true community public art project will bring the San Antonio community together to artistically help carve and give form to our shared story. Made by the community for the community, this iconic sculpture will celebrate our world heritage site of San Francisco de la Espada, and bring focus to the rich natural and cultural environment that surrounds it. The sculpture will enrich the lives of the people of San Antonio and enhance the makeup of its diverse community one story at a time for many future generations to come.
Arból de la Vida is a physical reflection of stories crafted by the people of San Antonio, inspired by the region-specific history of ranching. Adorning the steel tree-like structure will be more than 750 clay sculptures made by community members—many of whom worked closely with Cabrera as they had no prior sculpture experience. The objects will reflect the ranching heritage themes and stories related to collectively rich traditions.
“Margarita’s work, which has been rapidly gaining national attention, provides a wonderful addition to San Antonio’s Mission Reach collection” stated Robert Amerman SARF’s Executive Director. “As a regional Latina artist with depth in local San Antonio projects via her Artpace residency, Margarita’s collaboration-‐ based projects continue to extend and enhance our discussions surrounding the manifest strengths found in our layered culture. Margarita’s work serves as a bridge and an embrace.”
Funding for this San Antonio River Foundation project is secured by a generous $650,000 donation from Ramona and Lee Bass. A 6th generation Texan and native San Antonian, Ramona was raised near her family’s Seeligson Ranch. She and her husband Lee live in Fort Worth, but spend as much time as possible at their ranch in South Texas. They are excited to share their enthusiasm for the ranching heritage and traditions.
Why Ranching History?
Mission San Francisco de la Espadais currently understood as the only Spanish colonial mission in the United States which maintains contact with its original ranching operation: Rancho de las Cabras. Texas’ ranching legacy can be attributed to the initial efforts of the mission ranches. The rancho’s ruins and pastures can be found approximately 30 miles south of San Antonio in Floresville, TX. Tours of this property are currently by reservation only via the National ParkService.
Mission San Francisco de la Espada is administered by San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Mission Espada, within San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, is the subject of an online lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places. This lesson plan thematically ties the Mission’s history to its ranching origins. Teaching with Historic Places is a National Register program that offers classroom-‐ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register.