Public Art

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Posted by Stella from ( on Monday, January 13, 2003 at 6:45PM :

Border fence artwork set for Jan. 13 debut
By Carmen Duarte

Humanlike figures that represent life along the U.S.-Mexican border go on exhibit next month along the international wall in Nogales, Sonora.

An inauguration ceremony of four steel-and-resin sculptures titled "Border Dynamics" is scheduled Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. at Calle Internacional, along the west side of the main port of entry, said Alberto Morackis, one of the artists commissioned for the work.

Morackis and artist Guadalupe Serrano, who are the creators of the $5,000 sculptures, said the public art is intended to stir emotions and create dialogue about life along the border. A portable wall representing the international fence was also designed for the pieces, and the wall will be used during traveling exhibitions.

So far, Nogales, Ariz., officials have not yet approved display of the project on the U.S. side of the border wall. But the exhibit will travel in the United States and make a stop in Tucson at the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park.

The sculptures - 12 to 14 feet high, each weighing 500 to 600 pounds - will touch the international wall, creating an image of people being a part of the wall. The figures take on different poses, and it is up to the viewer to interpret each one. The figures can be seen as supporting the wall or trying to knock it down, Morackis said.

The inauguration ceremony will include community and political leaders from both Sonora and Arizona. The public art sculpture will remain at the international fence until early February and then begin a traveling exhibition.

"We are anxious to see all the pieces up along the border. Each piece will be illuminated, and the display will be under a 24-hour watch by guards," Morackis said. "A tent will be set up, and information about the display will also be available. This work shows so much symbolism about the border itself," said Morackis, an instructor at Casa de Cultura or House of Culture, a government-supported art, culture and theater center in Nogales, Sonora.

Gonzalo Garcia, director of Casa de Cultura, said in an earlier interview that Morackis and Serrano have the support of the cultural center, city and federal officials. "I think people can be united more through art. We can express ourselves better through art than we sometimes can through words," Garcia had said.

"We are excited to see what type of dialogue the pieces will create about the border," Morackis said. "Many people are already asking us about it."

Morackis and Serrano, who also teaches at Casa de Cultura, have created two dozen private and public murals. Their works are on display in Nogales and Hermosillo, Sonora, and Queretaro, Mexico.

Border Dynamics was commissioned by the Tucson-based, nonprofit Beyond Borders: Binational Arts Foundation Inc. Thomas E. Whittingslow, foundation founder, said Beyond Borders wants to develop a national awareness of the unique culture created by international borders through the creation and exhibition of binational art, film and literature.

Whittingslow said he worked with the U.S. Border Patrol to get the figures unveiled along the border fence in Nogales, Ariz., earlier this year, but no final decision from agency officials was reached.

Border Patrol officials in the Nogales and Tucson offices did not return telephone calls Friday.

Morackis said he has not lost hope that the art can be displayed along the border wall on the American side. "The project will tour, and there is still time," Morackis said.

"I believe when American officials see it up in Nogales, Sonora, they will see that it does not bite. Each side has a vision about the sculpture. The pieces signify differences. The main purpose is to get dialogue started about border issues," Morackis said.

Border Dynamics will travel from Nogales, Sonora, to the UA Science and Technology Park, where it will remain for about a month. The piece is also expected to travel to DePaul University in Chicago, Whittingslow said.

* Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4195 or at

-- Stella
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