Border Crossing, 2016, 26X48” Rolled dollar bills, rolled marijuana joints, barbed wire, small caliber gun shells, child’s shoe, and encaustic on board.
There are always two sides to a transaction and a transgression. The American-Mexican border is not an exception to this rule although each "side" would prefer to ignore the complexity and lay blame on the"other."
The United States provides access to the arms market, an available market for drug consumption, and American currency washes in both directions. Billed as the land of opportunity, many individuals come from poverty-stricken towns in Mexico and Central America, cross for the menial labor jobs that Americans will not perform or seek to escape persecution and emanate death in their home countries. Climate change is increasing the movement of these people, who are commoditized on both sides. In addition, the lack of political will to adjust to the influx is seeding the rise of autocratic changes in the United States.
Although Mexico gun ownership is illegal, the country is armed with military-grade guns accessible through the United States. Mexican coyotes and cartels take illegal migrants and immigrants across the border at enormous risk to human life, in addition they traffic drugs and bologna. Mexican cartels generate, launder and remove approximately $64 billion dollars from the United States each year. The U.S. and Mexican governments have been criticized for their unwillingness or slow response to confront the various financial operations.The truth is, it is profitable for all, including the powerful gun lobby and private incarceration institutions in the United States.
Using common symbols, Border Crossing, visually represents several forms of illegal commerce and the intertwined relationship between the United States and Mexico. The traditional American blue star field is replaced by the Mexican national green color to represent the historically close relationship between countries. Small caliber bullet shells are used to represent the arm sales and violence. The alternating stripes are filled with neatly rolled dollars suggesting commerce and a tool for snorting cocaine. Marijuana joints (oregano) are alternate stripes, signaling the drug pathways. The barbed wire, wrist tags and a child's shoe speak to the people who try to make the crossing.