Tanya Aguiñiga was born in 1978 in San Diego, California, and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. An artist, designer, and craftsperson, Aguiñiga works with traditional craft materials like natural fibers and collaborates with other artists and activists to create sculptures, installations, performances, and community-based art projects. Drawing on her upbringing as a binational citizen, who daily crossed the border from Tijuana to San Diego for school, Aguiñiga’s work speaks of the artist’s experience of her divided identity and aspires to tell the larger and often invisible stories of the transnational community.
Aguiñiga began her career by creating collaborative installations with the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo, an artist collective that addressed political and human rights issues at the U.S.-Mexico border. The artist co-built and for six years ran a community center in Tijuana, aimed at bringing attention through arts initiatives to injustices that the local community faced. Aguiñiga has maintained this spirit of activism and community collaboration throughout her career, going on to create many performances and installations that involve the participation of other artists, activists, and community members. In her installations, furniture, and wearable designs, Aguiñiga often works with cotton, wool, and other textiles, drawing upon Mesoamerican weaving and traditional forms. In 2016, in response to the deep polarization about the U.S.-Mexico border, Aguiñiga created AMBOS (Art Made Between Opposite Sides), an ongoing series of projects that provides a platform for binational artists. Her inaugural AMBOS project, Border Quipu, used brightly colored strands of fabric to create quipu—an Andean pre-Columbian organizational system—that recorded the daily commutes to and from the United States.
Tanya Aguiñiga holds an MFA in furniture design from Rhode Island School of Design and a BA from San Diego State University. She is a United States Artists Target Fellow in the field of crafts and traditional arts, a National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures awardee, Creative Capital grant awardee, and a recipient of an Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities. She has had major solo exhibitions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC (2018); Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2018); among others. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Annenberg Space for Photography (2019) and Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles (2018), among others. Aguiñiga lives in Los Angeles, California.