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Border art speaks to hundreds

JUSTIN BARKER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Artists Guadalupe Serrano, left, and Alberto Morackis stand with UA President Peter Likins at yesterday's art opening on the Mall in front of the Student Union Memorial Center.
By Alexis Blue
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday September 23, 2003

About 400 people gathered on the UA Mall yesterday for the official unveiling of the "Border Dynamics" sculpture on display in front of the Student Union Memorial Center.

The sculpture, created by artists Alberto Morackis and Guadalupe Serrano, is intended to promote awareness and discussion of issues along the United States' border with Mexico.

The music of a mariachi band filled the air and the U.S., Mexico, Arizona and UA flags flew side by side in the breeze at the


The project was commissioned by Beyond Borders Binational Art Foundation and was originally anchored to the border fence in Nogales, Sonora.

President Peter Likins said he is happy to have "Border Dynamics" begin its national tour on the UA campus.

"The sculpture itself is not only a beautiful and powerful work of art, but it speaks in symbolic terms about the border," he said.

Likins said he was also pleased by the diversity of the crowd at the unveiling which included UA students and several members of the Tucson community.

"There is symbolism in our coming together like this," Likins said.

Since the sculptures were displayed last week, there have been mixed student reactions to them because of their size and central location.

The four human sculptures are each about 14-feet tall and weigh 500-900 pounds.

"It's definitely in the way," said undeclared sophomore Joanie Segall.

But Segall said she has gotten used to walking around the exhibit and said the sculptures are in a good location to allow everyone to see it.

Socorro Carrizosa, director of Hispanic-Chicano student affairs, said she knew there would be mixed feelings about the artwork, but said that overall she has gotten positive feedback.

"If it's getting people to ask questions and to think, then it's doing its job," Carrizosa said.

Kate Fiegen, a pre-architecture junior, sat on the Mall yesterday afternoon, making a pencil sketch of the sculpture in her notepad.

JUSTIN BARKER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
College of Art Professor Alfred Quiroz, left, and border wall artist Guadalupe Serrano watch as UA President Peter Likins welcomes the audience to the unveiling ceremony on the Mall yesterday.

Fiegen said she appreciates the artistic value and precision of the piece.

"I'm really struck by how lifelike they are despite their abstract appearance," she said.

Others who might not like the look of the artwork still appreciate its message.

"They're not particularly pretty, but I think it makes a pretty cool statement," said pre-pharmacy freshman Rebecca Ascher.

Founder of "Beyond Borders" Thomas Whittingslow said not everyone will find the sculpture aesthetically pleasing.

"It's an art that places more emphasis on the intellectual concept than the artistic," he said.

Artist Alberto Morackis, who lives in Nogales, Sonora, said he is honored to have his work on display in Tucson.

"We want people to start to think about what's going on on the border," he said.

UA art professor Alfred Quiroz spoke at the event about the importance of recognizing Mexico as a strong neighboring country.

"I've been continually trying to get

students to realize that there is a country south of us. It's not just a playground to go drinking and have a party," he said.

This received much applause, especially from the Hispanic audience members.

Sophomore psychology major Amy Harrison said she doesn't think UA students think much about border issues, and hopes the sculpture will change that.

"I think it's a really positive thing to have on campus to raise awareness about things college students don't tend to think about," she said.

Mexican American studies junior Ben Mills said he thinks many Tucsonans often overlook border issues even though they are so close to home.

"This is a good way to put it in the face of a diverse student body," he said.

The unveiling was followed by a reception in the Grand Ballroom and a showing of "The Gatekeeper," a film that looks at immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Director of "The Gatekeeper," John Carlos Frey, was present at the unveiling.

"Events like this are invaluable," he said.

"I thank the University of Arizona for raising the bar and bringing the border to campus."

There will be an additional reception for students and campus community members today at noon in the exhibition area followed by a panel discussion on border issues at 3:15 p.m.

"The Gatekeeper" will show again in the Gallagher Theatre tonight at 7.

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