The border landscape is a cauldron where political divisiveness and humanitarian turmoil converge.
The U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration Customs Enforcement monitor the area as a militarized zone, imprisoning countless asylum seekers in internment camps.
Open at 516 ARTS, “When the Dogs Stop Barking” exhibits the work of five artists exploring this humanitarian crisis spanning 1,954 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.
Makaye Lewis’ (Tohono O’odham) print “Roxy Didn’t Even Bark” inspired the exhibition’s title. Lewis lives within 60 miles of the border in Arizona on tribal land. Her dog Roxy never barks as the migrants pass by because she knows they are harmless. She does bark at law enforcement, who regularly interrogate Lewis even though she is a dual citizen of both her tribe and the U.S.
“Her people have been her for thousands of years, yet she gets profiled, ” said Rachelle Pablo, 516 curator. “Her work highlights the humane versus the inhumane.”
Lewis’ 2019 linoprint “Another Night at Home” reveals the constant whirling of helicopters creating a militarized zone.
Born in Luis Moya, Zacatecas, Mexico, Juana Estrada Hernández moved to the U.S. when she was 7 years old. A Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, Estrada Hernández uses her experience to expose the way the border transfigures humans into a negative identity through her printmaking and drawing. Her lithograph from her “Nuestra Historia Series 2019” reveals the choices some migrants must make between carrying a bottle of water or a loaf of bread when crossing a unforgiving terrain spiked by blistering heat and barbed wire.
Yvette Serrano of Phoenix created “Ice Thugs” based on the official shooting target for the Department of Homeland Security. Serrano reimagined it in an engraved cast mirror as an object for self-reflection for ICE agents and as a symbol of protest.
“The visitors are going to see themselves,” Pablo said. “It’s a response to racial profiling and stigma.”
Santa Fe sculptor Joshua Wells created a miniature cargo container in his 2022 “NA. MUH Cargo Co.” He was inspired by news stories of migrants who die after being stuffed into cargo containers. Spelled backwards, the title reads “human.”
Haley Greenfeather English’s (Red Lake/Turtle Mountain-Ojibwe/Irish) painting “#NM 2 Tru” was inspired by the “#FreeThemAll” billboard she made for the Fronteristxs collective, who are working to end migrant detention. English uses whimsical graphics and brash, vibrant colors to explore the oddity, humor and contradictory aspects of humanity.