As curator for the ASU Art Museum, Morales often presents works exploring immigration and border-related issues. But he’s also an artist specializing in “social-based abstracted artwork that uses whatever medium necessary." In recent months, his watercolor paintings of people being smuggled across the Mexico/United States border have been shown at Palabra in downtown Phoenix, and his neon work featuring the word “Invaders” was featured in the "This Machine Kills ________" exhibition at Fine Art Complex 1101.
This artist collective, with members based in Arizona and New Mexico, created a temporary cross-border land art installation called Repellent Fence in October 2015. The installation, created using large-scale balloons, prompted reflection on why so many people attempt to create artificial barriers between cultures and landscapes. Postcommodity artists Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist will be showing another work during the prestigious Whitney Biennial that opens March 17 in New York City. Through the Repellent Fence: A Land Art Film follows the artists at work along the U.S./Mexico border. The film's first Arizona screening is on Saturday, April 22, at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
During a September 2015 artist residency at ASU Art Museum’s Combine Studios, Margarita Cabrera worked with community members to create soft sculptures with an immigration-related twist. About 30 people, including many immigrants, worked with Cabrera to create saguaro cactus sculptures made of Border Patrol agent uniforms. Every cactus was also decorated with words or images taken from stories of actual immigrant experiences. ASU Art Museum collaborated with Desert Botanical Garden, which showed the works in a recent exhibition called “Margarita Cabrera: Space In Between.” Cabrera recently joined the faculty at ASU School of Art, and her work is part of the ASU Art Museum collection.
Artist Karlito Miller Espinosa, a.k.a. Mata Ruda, moved from New Jersey to Arizona in 2015. He frequently paints portraits of immigrants. During July 2015, he painted part of a collaborative immigration-themed mural on Grand Avenue. It depicts a mother holding a photograph of her daughter who died while attempting to cross the U.S./Mexico border. His many portraits of immigrants remind viewers that anti-immigrant rhetoric effects real people.
As producing director for ASU's Performance in the Borderlands initiative, Stephens pulls together diverse artists whose work explores life in borderland regions, where immigration has long been a part of everyday life. Each season, Performance in the Borderlands presents performances, workshops, lectures, and community engagement projects that inspire greater appreciation for different cultures, histories, and artistic traditions.