President Trump’s proposal of a multi-billion dollar wall spanning some 1,000 miles along the United States-Mexico border has triggered emotional responses from both sides of the political aisle.
It has also inspired artists, who have responded with designs ranging from a pink homage
to famed Mexican architect
urging Trump to commission
to build a version of his and
’s iconic Running Fence
along the border. In a recent conversation
, the legendary Mexican artist and designer suggested the whimsical idea of installing 10 million turnstiles at the juncture between the U.S. and Mexico.
Although the wall looms large in contemporary discourse, the border as a physical, cultural, and symbolic presence is nothing new. “The border has been a contentious site for much longer than the current news cycle’s focus on Trump’s wall,” says Lowery Stokes Sims, co-curator of the upcoming exhibition “The U.S.-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility” at L.A.’s Craft and Folk Art Museum.
Some 85 years ago,
painted a self-portrait
straddling the border, in which she is torn between the Aztec ruins of her homeland and the industrial cities of the U.S. More recently, in 2005, Mexican artist
shot a human cannonball across the border, where immigration officials were waiting.
Issues surrounding immigration, border security, and the relationship between the two countries have prompted artists to create works both on and about the border for years. Although Trump’s plans have catalyzed more such creative projects, artists are quick to point out that concerns surrounding the frontera reach far beyond his capricious decrees.
, for example, began her “Erasing the Border”
project in 2011 in response to increasing border fortifications.
“I did it as a protest when they applied the third layer of mesh and didn’t allow people to touch anymore,” she says, describing the fence that divides a small patch of land near the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing known as Friendship Park. “That’s the area where people used to be able to congregate [on either side] and share meals and touch each other. In 2011 that was no longer allowed, the mesh was implemented, and now you can only touch your fingertips.”