The Women Embroidering Hope, Sé Fuerte-Be Strong, Spring 2023.

Abby Martinez shares her original“Sueño Americano-American Dream,”
surrounded by supporters from the Arizona Episcopal Diocese and La Casa de Misericordia de Todas Naciones Migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico.

In the summer of 2021, after waiting a lifetime (seventeen years), Abby legally crossed the U.S./Mexico border to be reunited at last with her mother in Phoenix. Now in her twenties and a mother of her own, she is ready to share her story. Abby is gracious and soft-spoken but not afraid to tell the truth. Like John Keats’ “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty, Abby’s beautifully embroidered “Sueño Americano” speaks to the reality of many who’ve traveled through hell and back again to make it across the border to the U.S., only to find food, rent, and the most basic services, frighteningly out of reach.

“Sueño Americano” Copyright 2023 by Abby Martinez

On this Good Friday 2023, the opening night of the group exhibition “Bordando Esperanza” at Phoenix’s Olney Gallery, Abby’s paisano-countryman hangs on a crucifix in the center of Sueño Americano. On one side of the cloth, we see the wide open green of mountains, cheerful houses, and flowers, and on the other side, an imposing blood-red border wall with crosses that dot the foreground and mark the dead. In contrast to the embroidered prayers and memories in the exhibition, Sueño Americano is the other side of the coin.

The priority of the traveling exhibition is that it be shown first in the U.S. communities that the participating artisans are now in so that they can represent their own work and share their story in their own voice if they choose. In Phoenix, Abby represents the exhibition and offers for a donation, original mantas that she’s currently embroidering.

One of the most popular pieces on display in the exhibition is Abby’s “Sé Fuerte,” completed during the year+ that she and her children waited at the shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico for the legal opportunity to cross and petition for asylum. Two of Abby’s other pieces in the exhibition have her signature Xray transparency: an eagle with outstretched wings titled “Volemos Alto”- We Fly High and a howling coyote titled “Loyal and Lonely,” both with an entire desert ecosystem embroidered inside their bold outlines.

“Sé Fuerte” copyrighted 2021 by Abby Martinez
Bordando Esperanza – Embroidering Hope Exhibition – 75 Embroidered Prayers and Memories by Asylum-seekers stranded at the U.S. Border from 2020-2022, at Trinity Cathedral’s Olney Gallery, in Downtown Phoenix, April 1 – April 27, 2023, Open Mon-Friday 10-3, Sunday 8-12
Bordando Esperanza -Embroidering Hope exhibition is traveling through 2024.
Email for information and booking in your community.
Rev. David Chavez, Episcopal Canon for Border Ministries, and Arizona’s Episcopal Bishop Jennifer A. Reddall bless every piece and their makers including one discovered in the desert.
5 of 15 banners.
Rose Commission, copyright 2022 by Abby Martinez

Abby accepts embroidery commissions now and is happy to work from drawings or photographs that folks provide. Originals in the exhibition are not available but limited cards and posters of Sé Fuerte and Abby’s other designs may be available going forward with donations to Abby’s small Artisans Beyond Borders start-up grant.

If you would like to commission Abby to make an original embroidery, text her directly at WhatsApp: 1(602) 505-7825

To support Embroidering Hope’s artisan start-ups across the U.S., donate directly to By helping these artisans gain a foothold, we support healthy families and resilent community, peace, and beauty.

To support the Migrant shelter La Casa de Misericordia y Todas Naciones in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, donate to Cruzando Fronteras.

Valarie James, friend of Artisans Beyond Borders, 2023