Art professor Susan Rochester’s project, set to begin showing at The Art Gallery on Wednesday, Oct. 31, was created by taking geological and satellite photos of land along the U.S. Mexican border and weaving them into a collage. The visual information in her work announces rising conflicts along the southern border of the United States.
Part of Rochester’s art analyzes border patrol practices such as stopping historical visits between ancient villages and increasing danger for families in transit.
Traveling to many different cultures and being introduced to historic weavings inspired Rochester to create her series of collages. Using borrowed images from Google Earth, she was able to capture real landscapes and weave them into unique mirrored patterns.
The vertical patterns are what is known as a warp: historic and cultural connections that show strength. The horizontal patterns are the weft: decorative elements that complete the weaving. Each piece focuses on a specific area keeping every color found on those areas of land.
Rochester had a main goal to “make something beautiful out of something that’s broken.”
The piece “We Stare at the Same Moon” captures a viewer’s eye with extensive movement and rhythm throughout the image. The naturalistic landscape tones of different greys, greens, blues and browns help the viewer understand what the image portrays. Both the movements and tones emphasize the fact of something destructive happening on land.
Often that destruction affects families. According to the Alliance for Global Justice, separation can occur between families in many ways:
• When mothers and fathers are forced to leave behind their family for employment
• When children leave their homes with hopes of reconnecting with their family in the US
• When new families are formed in the US, and children are torn from their parents by deportations
•When people die crossing the border.
With stresses among border lines, people are crossing now through some of the harshest terrains. A writer for the Alliance for Global Justice, Raquel Mogollon, explained that since the development of Free Trade Agreements, more than 6,000 remains have been found along the non-official Southern border crossings. Sometimes family members are gone without a trace. And yet, movement of people groups is currently at a historical high.
“Increased militarization and a lack of legal protection has combined to create a more worrisome climate for families than ever,” Mogollon stated.
Rochester’s vast research has revealed femicide (murder of all aged females) as a problem in Mexico, which Americans aren’t often aware of. She also spoke of “The Devil’s Highway,” a true story by Luis Alberto Urrea, about a treacherous stretch of desert west of the Growler Mountains in southwestern Arizona used by illegal immigrants. Reading this story helped spark her interest in border patrol.
Rochester shared her opinion toward border line patrol: “Borders are living things that move. People just put them there.” She believes that borders have been placed in unnecessary places, and it’s causing families harm to their lives and relationships. •