The 17 Best Border-Inspired Artworks and Artists in Metro Phoenix

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Best Permanent Public Art: Eduardo Sarabia's Snake Skin Boots with Snake Head
Carved from Mexican canterra stone and reaching seven feet in height, Eduardo Sarabia's Snake Skin Boots with Snake Head stands tall outside the Tempe museum, embellished with smiling snake heads and a nod to the Aztec god of war. It's a heavy statement, both literally and figuratively, as the sculpture piece weighs in at an immobile 4,000 pounds.

Best Border-Inspired Art Pioneer: Annie Lopez
Fourth-generation Arizonan Annie Lopez is a nationally renowned cyanotype artist whose photographs, sometimes created on tamale wrapping paper and sewn into dresses, tell stories of her own experiences and those of her family. Many reference her Mexican roots — sometimes exploring the cultural stereotypes prevalent in contemporary society.

Best Latina Art Collective: Phoenix Fridas
It's been more than a decade since Kathy Cano-Murillo, an artist and author who's built her own brand as the Crafty Chica, started the Phoenix Fridas art collective. The roster of artists — all Latina artists inspired by renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo — has changed through the years. Even so, it's remained a fierce group united by mutual respect and creativity despite varying art styles, ages, viewpoints, and personalities.

Best Curator of Border-Inspired Art: Julio Cesar Morales
When he joined ASU Art Museum as a curator in 2012, Julio César Morales said he was "particularly interested in art's unique ability to engage in a social context." It's something he's brought to life again and again, most recently with the exhibitions "Contemporary Photography in Mexico: Existe lo que tiene nombre" and "Miguel Angel Ríos: Landlocked."

Best Border-Inspired Performance Series: Arizona State University’s Performance in the Borderlands
Amid popular culture saturated with the noise of nonsensical political rhetoric, ASU's Performance in the Borderlands fostered collaborations that created safe, yet challenging spaces for dialogue about some of the most pressing issues in contemporary American life — including immigration and racism. 

Best Ritual Dance: Town of Guadalupe Easter Ceremonies and Traditional Dances
Stretching across the seven weeks of Lent leading to Easter Sunday, the Yaqui Easter festival in Guadalupe offers a unique chance to watch centuries-old religious ceremonies up close and in person. In the 17th century, when Jesuit priests introduced Catholicism to the Yaqui, tribal members incorporated Christianity into cultural traditions and tribal customs, resulting in the unique ceremonies and dances celebrated today in Guadalupe.

Best Border Installation: Ana Teresa Fernández
While others talk of building walls, San Francisco artist Ana Teresa Fernández is working to erase them. She's done several installations combining visual with performance art at various points along the U.S.-Mexico border. Each time, Fernández buys blue paint matching the particular sky overhead, then invites others to join her in painting blue the prison-like bars comprising the border fence. From a distance, it seems the border has been erased, giving rise to new perspectives on what might be possible without its looming presence.

Best Mariachis in Training: Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children
Combining a lively mix of violin, trumpet, guitar, and vocals, the young performers in the three mariachi ensembles from Rosie's House produce a full, passionate sound whether they're playing heartfelt corrido or a fast-paced polka. Students range in age from 5 to 18 at the academy, which offers classes in brass, woodwind, and string instruments, as well as choir. It's an impressive bunch: The Advanced Mariachi Ensemble performed recently at both the Tucson International Mariachi Conference and the Governor's Arts Awards.
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