Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre was a much loved young feminist artist and activist from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, known for her beautiful and evocative hand-painted clothing with eyes being an emblematic feature in her work. Her murals transformed the run down and vacant buildings in Ciudad Juarez’s downtown, bringing life and political commentary to their walls.
Through her art and political activism Isabel sought to draw attention to the gender based violence pervasive in her hometown. She volunteered with the women’s network Mesa de Mujeres on the Citizen Observatory on Gender to monitor the performance of judges, prosecutors and public defenders on cases of femicides and other gender based violations. She was also a member of Hijas de su Maquilera Madre, a feminist collective whose name makes reference to the daughters of mothers who are maquila workers. Some of these mothers were among the first victims of femicide in the city.
Isabel’s latest project, still in progress, was an art installation to protest a Canadian company that was looking to mine copper in the Samalayuca Desert.
On 18 January, 2020 Isabel was shot while riding her bike back home in Downtown Juárez, in what appeared to be a targeted killing, her body found beside her bike.
Isabel’s murder, sparked a new wave of outrage against femicides in the region, hundreds marched to the US-Mexico border bridge, blocking it for hours and chanting “Ni una mas” (Not one more) as feminist collectives continue to protest the murders of women throughout Mexico. In 2019 alone, 3142 women and girls were killed in Mexico, many of whom were targeted specifically because of their gender.
She loved riding her bike.
"The bike for her was a symbol of freedom. A symbol of being free in the streets." - Marisol (a friend of Isabel’s)