Site-Specific Installation

Site Nº1, Tijuana, Baja California Norte, Mexico

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In an effort to create a sense of the process being a collaboration, I used large-format positive/negative Polaroid materials, giving the migrant the resulting print as a record of that one moment of such significant personal transformation while I retained the negative, processing them in the field. The resulting negatives were then printed in the darkroom on 1/4 inch steel plates that weighed approximately 30 lbs. and had been coated with a gelatin silver emulsion. Once completed, the steel plates were permanently riveted to the border wall in Tijuana, where the migrant had been encountered and photographed.

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Cardboard retablo found along U.S. - Mexico border wall, Tijuana, Mexico, 2003

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Through the use of steel, and later aluminum, the images reference in a contemporary manner 19th-century photographic tintypes and the Mexican religious iconography of the retablo: votive paintings prepared on sheets of tin that are an expression of gratitude from which the subject has been miraculously guided through a dangerous or threatening event with the divine intervention of a holy figure such as Christ, the Virgin, or the saints.

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With the five portraits used for the Site Nº 5 installation, the names of each migrant and their home state in Mexico were carved into the steel so each portrait would be informed by their own sense of personal identity. Due to the harsh desert landscape conditions as well as interventions by the Mexican government, the photographs eventually deteriorated, leaving the portraits faintly visible – small traces of someone’s identity left behind.

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Estamos Buscando A – Site-Specific Works Installations

2015        New Mexico State University Art Gallery, Las Cruces, New Mexico

2012        Coconino Center for the Arts, Flagstaff, Arizona

2012        Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona

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