Migration is as natural as hummingbirds flying south for the winter.
“Migratory” pairs the migration of plants and animals with human movement for survival.
Developed by Mexico City artist Minerva Cuevas, the exhibition spans the networks and creative environments between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso.
Cuevas asked multiple artists to submit their work, creating a mural, prints, video, glass and the book “The Migratory Yellow Pages/La Seccíon Amarilla de la Migracíon” in the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso. Filled with contributions from local and international visual artists, writers and organizations, the book provides information for migrants to have a welcoming journey.
The show runs at 516 ARTS through Dec. 31.
“She decided to focus on migration in a very broad way,” said Kerry Doyle, Rubin Center director and curator, in a telephone interview from El Paso. “She did a number of interviews with people and she invited them to create works that talk about the migration process.”
The contributors include artists as well as botanists and environmentalists.
Cuevas’ digital image “Migration is Natural,” tangled with fronds and foliage, serves as both a logo and poster for the show, Doyle said.
“All species migrate for their survival,” she said.
The instantly recognizable baby skunk Flower from “Bambi” symbolizes the text “Yes it could even happen to you,” Cuevas’ 2022 mural.
That stimulus could stem from politics or climate change.
“The line is from ‘Bambi,’ ” Doyle said. “Everybody in Mexico recognizes this simplified Disney style.”
Paul Mirocha of Tucson, Arizona drew a migration map showing paths swirling across the globe.
“He was one of the scores of artists that contributed to the ‘Migratory Yellow Pages,’ ” Doyle said.
Denver’s Mikala Aragon Sterling drew cartoon animals using inkjet print on paper – bighorn sheep, antelope and owls.
Animals have migrated across history as well as borders.
The delicate glass animal menagerie Cuevas collected emerged from the historic Cristales de Chihuahua Glass Factory in Juárez. The collection features elephants, a swan and a bear.
“She wanted to hearken back in time to when Juárez was a tourist destination,” Doyle explained. “She found all these stories about people seeing the glass blowing.”
At UTEP, visitors recognized figures from their grandparents’ home. Cuevas collected many of the items on eBay.
The poster “No One Is Illegal since always & forever” was submitted by a migrants’ rights group in London from their Right to Remain campaign.
Unlike many artists, Cuevas believes in making art without full authorship, Doyle said.
“She believes art is something that can and should be collaborative.”
Cuevas is a conceptual and socially engaged artist who develops projects in response to politically-charged events. She has shown her work in more than a dozen solo exhibitions in New York, Berlin, Mexico City and London. Her work has been part of group exhibitions in major museums worldwide, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, among others.