A lone saguaro stands near a bit of border fence surrounded by vast desert expanse in the first photograph visitors see when entering Lisa Sette Gallery. The image prompts viewers to consider the chasm between border rhetoric and reality. It’s one of many fall 2016 exhibitions and performances in metro Phoenix that offer insights into border-related landscapes, cultures, and ideas. Here are five must-sees.
Arizona photographer David Taylor spent several years documenting 276 monuments along the U.S.-Mexico border, installed through the International Boundary Commission started after the Mexican-American War that ended in 1848. Today, those photographs cover a large gallery wall at the Phoenix Art Museum for an exhibition that also includes photographs of people and places along the border.
Tempe artist Mark Klett, a Regents’ Professor of Art at ASU, has spent nearly four decades documenting the Southwest’s great desert expanse, including the saguaro cacti long regarded by desert peoples as the souls of lost ancestors. This exhibition includes both large- and small-scale photographs revealing intriguing variations between individual cacti, but also an installation of 100 Sunrise Sticks created with found objects from Klett’s desert excursions.
Oasis: Installation and Performances
Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area
September 24 & 25
San Francisco artist Ana Teresa Fernandez, whose prior projects include erasing the U.S.-Mexico border using blue paint that visually blends the border fence with a vast sky, has created a site-specific installation at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area as part of ASU’s Performance in the Borderlands series exploring issues of social justice affecting not only the border region but also marginalized communities living with metaphorical borders. See her Oasis and performances by local artists, presented in partnership with ASU Art Museum and CALA Alliance, starting at 5 p.m. both days (rather than 6 p.m., as first planned) at 2801 South Seventh Avenue.
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Crossfade Lab, which promotes understanding between people of the Americas through shared arts experiences, presents performances by Dominican-born performance artist Rita Indiana and Tucson-based band Calexico, in a mix of storytelling, ideas, and performance moderated by Josh Kun of Crossfade Lab. Both artists explore cultural heritage, popular culture, mythology, and the borders of identity. The performance starts at 7 p.m. (Return on October 4 for New Times’ Bar Flies: Best of Phoenix, featuring tales with a “Border Town” twist.)
Margarita Cabrera, an artist born in Mexico and now based in Texas, creates works that promote cultural dialogue regarding themes including immigration, cultural identity, and community. She’s engaging community members in creating soft sculptures of desert plants using recycled Border Patrol uniforms embroidered with personal immigration stories, which Desert Botanical Garden is exhibiting in partnership with ASU Art Museum.