Wall Art: A Profound Way to Tell the Sad Stories of Our Border

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Between the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Borderlands RAVE photo exhibit in the Senate, the border wall has loomed large in the minds of many this November.

As a final reflection for the month, Leslie Berestein of the San Diego Union-Tribune has called attention to another function of the fence: a place for artistic expression.

In her article, Berestein quotes historian and Executive Director of The Wende Museum in Los Angeles Justinian Jampol.

“Borders tend not to be joyous places. Borders tend to be where people are separated. They tend to be points of contention. Artists are naturally drawn to spaces that have an aura around them, a tension, that is already endowed with meaning.”

Various mediums of art are commonly seen along the border wall, from sculptures and symbolic crosses, to murals or simple graffiti. It’s important to remember that the U.S.-Mexico border is a place of joyous and positive exchange for many; but let’s take a moment to view how these various forms of artistic expression embody the points of contention and difficult realities that are also present at our SW-border. (Photos courtesy of individual from October, 2009 Borderlinks delegation)

Migrant deaths, many due to dehydration in the desert, number well over 5,000.




Twelve year old, Cecilia Cid-Contreras, lost her entire immediate family when the driver of a suburban carrying a total of 20 undocumented migrants crashed into a canal while trying to evade authorities.


A mural depicts memories held by many campesinos who have found themselves forced to migrate north.


A final image to contemplate.


Thanks to all the artists –and the photographers who documented their work– who have added both beauty to an ugly reality and awareness of the sad stories that are consequences of enforcement-only approaches to controlling migration.

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