The last parts of this print came together quickly. The climbers, who were the first characters I knew I wanted to include in this print, were printed in two stages. Then I added a map of Coronado's journey and some of the tribes in the area, and finished it off with some rubber-stamped lettering for a few towns and pueblos that Coronado visited.
BORDERS #1 - U.S. / MEXICO
Japanese woodblock (moku hanga)
Image size: 14" x 22" (35.5 x 56 cm)
4 shina plywood blocks
23 hand-rubbed impressions plus rubber stamp
Paper: Echizen Kozo
Based on a satellite view of Nogales, USA and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.
I used several different styles in rendering the various figures because I wanted it to look like a collage, the elements sort of cobbled together from different time periods and different worlds. As usual, I learned a lot about the topic as I worked, but in this case what I mostly learned was how complicated the issues around this border really are. It would have been easy to take an extreme point of view -- immigration is bad, or the Dept. of Homeland Security is bad, or the world is ending -- but my feelings ended up more complicated than that. Everyone is just doing their job, playing their part. The border guards are doing their job protecting American citizens from drug dealers, smugglers, terrorists and illegal immigrants, and the immigrants are doing their job hoping to make a better life for themselves and their families. Isn't that what has always drawn people to the U.S.? Isn't that hope for a better life the American promise, the American dream? What else but sheer desperate hope could make a person risk their life crossing a desert for a job?
I don't think the fence will stop people from coming into the U.S. via our southern border. I don't think there's any way to stop this flow. People migrate. People have always migrated. It's said that the native American tribes migrated to North America from Asia over the Bering Straits. Maybe those first Americans would have fared better if they had built fences when the Europeans started showing up, but I doubt it. People migrate. Rather than asking "How can we stop illegal immigration?" perhaps our policy makers should try a different question, like "How can we help our southern neighbors better support their own people?" or "How can we share our American dream while keeping our society safe and stable?".
I fear that as our climate goes through the upheavals that are predicted, we'll see global migration on an unimaginable scale. The underlying question every society seems to be grappling with right now is just this: Who is "us"?