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What is “Border Tapestry”?
- Pieces of fabrics tied together.
- Pieces of fabrics woven through the border fence.
- Pieces of fabrics tied to a frame.
Now we are ready to start.
Presenter: Today in our studio we meet Sanchez Hallton, the initiator of the new Border Tapestry Project. She did it with her friends and family members. We welcome you here, Sanchez! To begin with, can you describe your personal experience of the US-Mexico border?
Sanchez: My personal experience began as a child, growing up in Arizona and having family in Mexico. We took many trips into Mexico to large cities and smaller villages that would ultimately influence my worldview and my personal identity. During my middle school years we moved to Agua Prieta for a few years which meant we crossed several times a day into Douglas. We attended school in Douglas and also for our activities after school, except for dance. … The weekends were spent hanging out in Agua Prieta, going to baseball games and sitting outside listening and dancing with our neighbors. …
Presenter: How can you characterize such neighbourhood?
Sanchez: If I had to describe this region with one word, I would say, “generous”. In so many cases, binational communities are not held in the highest regard, and no matter what, the people remain simple and generous.
Presenter: How does this speak to your art practice?
Sanchez: Growing up, my interaction with the border became more multi-sided. Life existed equally on both sides. I do not remember feeling like the fence or politics was dividing our community. The border felt like a long stoplight, as we were moving from one place to another in one community. It’s a really beautiful thing to have the privilege to go between two amazing countries in a matter of minutes. … When I attended college in Phoenix and began getting involved in activist groups … I quickly learned that there was a polarizing idea surrounding the border. That the border was a dangerous place with high crime and drug-dealing rates. As an artist, my goal is for the work to hold this community in the highest regard. My work does not always paint an over-idealized picture of the border but intends to celebrate the overlooked, overworked and unrealized aspects of the borderlands. I have learned through living on the border that nothing is permanent.
Presenter: How was “Border Tapestry” conceived?
Sanchez: It was conceived by borrowing fabrics that belonged to my mother and grandmother and weaving them through the border fence. The idea was to make visual the interdependence of the generational fabrics tied together to remain united, along with the existence of both countries to hold a tapestry not damaged. For that moment the fence served merely as a frame for the tapestry. On a personal level, I intended to represent how my family has created and maintained a woven lifestyle between the US and Mexico. There are not only strong economic ties between the two countries, but familial and cultural ties that keep the heart of the borderlands beating. Without close relationships bonded by love, respect and admiration, everything else would fall apart.
Presenter: How is it created or installed?
Sanchez: “Border Tapestry” was installed in 2009. The project brought my mother, cousin and me out to the fence to perform this action. My mother and I wove the fabrics onto the fence. After the installation of the tapestry, we reflected on my mother’s memories of my Granny, who had died months before I was born. We spoke about how crossing the border back in her younger days was different. The movement among Douglas and Agua Prieta residents was more fluid, compared to the more visible border we know today. We then removed the fabrics as carefully as they were installed. Our audience consisted only of a border patrol agent watching from afar. When we left the site, so did he.
Presenter: What is your highest aspiration for the work?
Sanchez: My highest aspiration for viewers of this work would be to reflect on their own family stories and how they are connected with people close and far, … that through a piece like “Border Tapestry,” one could remove the physical barrier and remember that we are all made up of the same human «fabric,» as idealistic as that sounds.
Presenter: What has surfaced or what have you discovered in the process of making art in this region?
Sanchez: Border fluidity is all about relationships. … Like having the best of reasons to cross the border, whether it be to visit family, eat at the best taco stands or economic trade. Human interest is the key. When the desire is there, boundaries are minimized. When common goals are shared, anything is possible.