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Mary Saldaña

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Visiting Information

Much of the compound and its ornaments are viewable from the street.



About the Artist/Site

Mary Saldaña is the third of four generations of midwives who practiced first in the city of Matamoros, in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, and then across the Rio Grande in Brownsville, TX. She grew up in Matamoros, moved to Brownsville to study, and later earned her U.S. citizenship. Her parents and siblings later were able to follow.

While Saldaña’s practice is located within the modest 1½ story wooden bungalow located on a corner lot, it belies the spare and clinical ambience one might assume would be standard for a birthing clinic. Instead, her home, with manicured lawn and white picket fence, is surrounded by an assortment of flowerbeds with scalloped edging, as well as planters, figurines, and altars. All found or fabricated objects, and many of Mexican provenance, they combine to make a cheerful welcome for expectant mothers.

When Saldaña purchased the home, the exterior was packed dirt with no hint of ornamentation, and vegetation was sparse and scarce. Remembering her own mother’s garden in Matamoros, Saldaña was determined to create a similar space that brought beauty and comfort; in addition, she has planted certain herbs, such as Estafiate (Artemisia ludoviciana), said to be used to alleviate menstrual cramps and pain associated with childbirth; it has also been used by native Americans in smudging rituals for purification.

A five-level fountain, painted blue, is adorned with a variety of ceramic and cast concrete garden objects, many picked up at local flea markets. Swans, frogs, bunnies, and ducks share space with cutesy baby figurines, and, in season, a riotous color of flowers interweaves the whole. A special altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe has become a local landmark, venerated by neighbors.

Much of the compound and its ornaments are viewable from the street.

 ~Jo Farb Hernández



Map and site information


Visiting Information

Much of the compound and its ornaments are viewable from the street.



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