Women cross the border with a universal language: Art

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A new show up at a gallery in San Diego aims to illustrate how women navigate borders, literal and figurative. Spearheaded by artists Anna Stump, Jill Holslin and the art collective known as FIG (Feminist Image Group), colleagues associated with Mexico’s Distrito Diez Gallery were invited to collaborate.

A Scrabble board straddles the "border." courtesy: FIG
A Scrabble board straddles the “border.” courtesy: FIG

A fence bisects the space. On one side is work by the Mexican artists; on the other is work by the Americans. To get across the fence, you have to exit the building.

It’s nothing compared to an actual border crossing, of course, but getting the works to San Diego from Tijuana was a nail-biting chore, said Stump. Artists had to pack the work in such a way that if border agents stopped the vehicle, they could easily inspect the pieces.

What the women share transcends their cultural differences: “It’s true in San Diego, it’s true in L.A., it’s true everywhere in the art world,” Stump told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Even though there are more women artists, more women graduating from art schools, we are definitely underrepresented at almost every level.”

A metaphorical depiction of the border fence that separates San Diego from Tijuana.
A metaphorical depiction of the border fence that separates San Diego from Tijuana.
Talking across the fence. Photos courtesy FIG.
Mexican artists used traditional materials, hung in a way that respects the work, said a show organizer. The Americans used cardboard, paper, junkmail, plastic wrap and cloth, hung more casually, overlapping and high on the wall.

Stump said cultural differences were apparent in the artwork: “The Americans approached the topic of the fence as optimists. Birds fly over the fence in a crazy flock, traveling north and south. Houses float over the fence unimpeded,” she said. “The Mexicans reflect the experience of the fence more darkly. A woman is set to burn and heads turn away from the border. Snapshots of mothers and daughters show the difference between American and Mexican families. Other topics include GMOs and religion. Serious themes point to difference.”

The Fence/La Barda At Art Produce, 3139 University Avenue, San Diego, through October 25