Dozens of people paused, pointed, looked and discussed the artworks hanging from the walls of the Salon Bicentenario at the Mexican Consulate last Thursday evening.
With about 50 pieces of art adorning the room, ranging from photography to painting to sculpture, artists and guests gathered for the inauguration of the “Corredor de Artes Plásticas,” an exhibit put together by the Mexican Consulate and the Cultural Arts Committee of Nogales.
“Nogales isn’t sitting idle in the arts,” curator Ricardo Santos Hernandez said, adding that the exhibit at the Mexican Consulate was only one of six venues that were holding art pieces for the exhibit. “Here, you see people who are home-grown, people who have imported themselves from the outside and into Nogales to create some beautiful work.”
The new exhibit, which consists of over 100 pieces of artwork, includes participation from more than 35 artists on both sides of the border, extending as far south as Hermosillo, Sonora and up north to Flagstaff, Ariz., as well as one artist from New York.
As Hernandez recounted, the exhibit began with a small group of artists from Ambos Nogales, but ultimately grew into a bigger project of people who shared the same desire to “push the edge.”
While the artwork hung for the inauguration showed different styles, mediums and themes, several shared an underlying message of border politics.
David Fernandez saw one of his paintings hung on a wall at the Consulate, while the other five that comprise his series were divided among the other venues taking part in the exhibit.
The one hung up for the public to see during the inauguration depicted a human figure extending an arm over a border wall, with their closed fist forming part of the word, “No.”
“They all have ‘No.’ It’s not a new concept, but it’s something that we need to resist,” Fernandez said, referring to the United States being unwelcoming to people south of the border. He added that he hoped his painting emitted “a sentiment, more than a narrative.”
For James Schrimpf, who decided to superimpose two photographs for one of his artworks, it was an opportunity to convey a message of love despite any ongoing controversy on the border.
His final product, named “Lament,” showed a photo of the concertina wire on the border fence in Nogales, overlapped with a photo of a mother embracing her baby.
“In this time when there’s a lot of talk about border issues, I was searching for images of universal love to contrast with the border because everyone, no matter what side of the issue they might be on, tends to gravitate towards symbols of love,” Schrimpf said.
His message seemed to connect strongly with Susana Rangel, who stood in front of the artwork for a few quiet minutes, analyzing the piece.
“It’s a mother and her baby. I’m going through a difficult moment right now because I just lost my mother, so that was the first thing that caught my attention. Later on I noticed the border, the wire, all the current issues,” she said, adding that the beauty behind the exhibit was each person’s individual interpretation of the artworks.
Fernandez’s and Schrimpf’s pieces can be seen at the Salon Bicentenario at the Mexican Consulate, along with more artwork from other local artists including Karla Osete, Sandra Kory and Paula Wittner from Patagonia
The other pieces in the exhibit can be seen at the Santa Cruz Center, Nogales-Santa Cruz Public Library, City Hall, Hilltop Gallery and Quality Hotel Americana, until Aug. 23.