Since 2008 I have visited most major and some smaller cities on both sides of the 2000 miles long U.S. – Mexico border and photographed about 200 painters, photographers, musicians, writers, dancers, architects and art promoters in order to shine a spotlight on the vibrant cultural activities and cross-border opportunities that exist despite the tremendous challenges in this bi-national region.
The region has particular significance to me since I grew up in Germany with a border dividing my country into East and West until it came down in 1989. Meanwhile the steel ‘wall’ between the US and Mexico is growing in length and height and does its part to create a physiological and physical barrier between the United States and Mexico.
Lately I have been focusing on artists who work specifically with border and migration related issues and/or are migrants themselves, like the Artistas Fronterizas, three fabulous opera singing women who perform on both sides of the border to promote cross border culture (their story here), or photographer Tom Kiefer (the cover photo here!) who collects and photographs migrant’s possessions taken from them in a detention center (his story here), or Haitian painter Nixon Tervine, whose journey through all of South America ended in Mexicali, Mexico, and who sells his art to motorists crossing the border north (his story here), or artist Alvaro Enciso who puts up crosses in the Sonoran Desert to remember migrants who did not survive the long journey north (his story here).
I am trying to show that most people on both sides of the US – Mexico border are very passionate about their bi-national region and the unique opportunities and cross-border collaborations and friendships that come with it.
I chose artists for my project because they always seem to have a finger on the pulse of their communities, and reflect their status in real time; I believe these artists deserve our attention. I hope my project is adding a positive and humanitarian aspect to the usual negative stories about the border region and the people who live and work there.
Overview of all portraits: https://www.stefanfalke.com/Portfolios/LA-FRONTERA:-Artists-along-the-US-Mexican-Border/thumbs
The projects website: https://borderartists.com