Art

Meet 10 Arizona Artists Who Put Immigration Front and Center

L to R: Postcommodity artists Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist.
L to R: Postcommodity artists Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist. Courtesy of Postcommodity

Page 2 of 2


click to enlarge Neon art by Julio César Morales recently featured in "This Machine Kills ________." - LYNN TRIMBLE
Neon art by Julio César Morales recently featured in "This Machine Kills ________."
Lynn Trimble
Julio César Morales
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.

The Repellent Fence installation reminded viewers of the long history of immigration in the Americas. - COURTESY OF POSTCOMMODITY
The Repellent Fence installation reminded viewers of the long history of immigration in the Americas.
Courtesy of Postcommodity
Postcommodity
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.

click to enlarge Artwork featured in the recent "Margarita Cabrera: Space In Between" exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden. - MIKE LUNDGREN
Artwork featured in the recent "Margarita Cabrera: Space In Between" exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden.
Mike Lundgren
Margarita Cabrera
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.

Mata Ruda's paintings capture the humanity and inherent worth of immigrants. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Mata Ruda's paintings capture the humanity and inherent worth of immigrants.
Lynn Trimble
Mata Ruda
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.


Mary Stephens, producing director for ASU's Performance in the Borderlands. - COURTESY OF MARY STEPHENS
Mary Stephens, producing director for ASU's Performance in the Borderlands.
Courtesy of Mary Stephens
Mary Stephens
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.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble