‘La Frontera Encounters Along the Border’ crosses over the MAD Museum

La Frontera is the border. The Mexican – American border is almost 2,000 miles long.

It was once all New Spain and later Mexico. Then we manufactured a war and stole half of Mexico including most of what are now California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

There’s an old saying, “We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.”

“We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.”

La Frontera now crosses the great Sonora and Chihuahua deserts. It is the most crossed border in the world. We used to come to the States to work and then head home to spend Christmas with our families before returning in the Spring. We migrated back and forth every year just like the Monarch butterflies.

Nowadays, the crossing has become dangerous, and opportunities in Mexico have improved, so we mostly stay where we are.

Politicians say scary things about us and the border in order to fool their followers into giving them power. But as the great Mexican poet Octavio Paz said, “Borders separate, but also unite.”

“Borders separate, but also unite”
Octavio Paz, Mexican poet and diplomat

Those of us who live along the border see something very different than what you hear about in the news. It’s a beautiful place with noble traditions on both sides.

You just have to stop, listen, and open yourself. Then the desert will come alive before your very eyes.

La Frontera Encounters Along the Border

This exhibition of jewelry inspired by the border was originally organized and curated by Lorena Lazard and Velvet da Vinci Gallery.

Some of the work is really thoughtful. The cover piece by Kevin Hughes (American) is a necklace made from the handle of a plastic water jug. It’s taped in the colors of the Mexican flag. The handle represents a wall, but the hole in it (and the water the jug once provided) offers a way through.

Seeing this piece recalls recent reporting that Border Patrol agents were filmed dumping water left for migrants. (Washington Post, January 24, 2018.) Security is one thing, but wishing people dead is quite another.

Martha Vargas ‘Sueno y Realidad’ 2012. Courtesy of the artist / Velvet da Vinci Gallery.

A choker necklace by Mexican artist Martha Vargas is a beautiful imagining of Monarch butterflies and footprints crossing the desert. The piece is shaped like Mexico. The choker with its neck straps is laid out in the shape of a cow’s skull, an icon of the American southwest.

La Frontera Encounters Along the Border is at the Museum of Art and Design in Midtown, Manhattan, Tuesday – Sunday,  March 1 – September 23, 2018.

Museum of Art and Design (MAD)

2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
(between Eighth Ave and Broadway)

Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm (Thursdays 9 pm)

Admission: $12 – $16


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