Bridging Walls and Breaking Boundaries

Dear Friends of the HRM,

“We’re artists; we’re not politicians. We want to give people the experience of the border, and to get acquainted with the immigrant’s journey. To make it palpable. To make it human.”

“Somos artistas; no somos políticos. Queremos ofrecer la experiencia de la frontera y familiarizar al público con la jornada del inmigrante. Hacer esta experiencia palpable . . . Humanizarla.”

—Guillermo Galindo

Migration is a topic that resonates deeply in our community. For many of us, family stories about arriving in a new country are part of what help us understand ourselves. While none of us are immune to borders, the truth is we don’t all experience them equally. This month, we unveil Border Cantos | Sonic Border, a profoundly moving exhibition that crosses boundaries in many ways. Using the language of art, photographer Richard Misrach and sculptor and composer Guillermo Galindo bring a humanitarian perspective to the political debates that surround the subject of immigration today.

Richard Misrach has photographed the desert landscapes of the American Southwest since the late 1970s. For this project, he spent nearly four years visiting the border of the United States and Mexico with his camera. He drove for days across the vast desert—nearly 2,000 miles—from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, taking pictures of the wall, the Rio Grande, and various Border Patrol outposts. In 2012, he met an ideal collaborator, composer Guillermo Galindo, whose musical instruments, crafted from items found along the same border—from shirts and bibles to children’s shoes, shotgun shells, and water bottles—visually and sonically bring human stories to life.

Together they have created an immersive space in which to look, listen, and learn about the complex issues surrounding the Mexican-American border and about migration at large. Neither artist claims to provide specific solutions, but together they offer a poignant connection that draws on our humanity and encourages us to seek ways to contribute to better outcomes. We hope you will join us for Collaborators in Conversation to learn directly from Misrach and Galindo the intriguing story behind how their project came to be. As part of our programming this month, we will be partnering with local, national, and international organizations to bring many voices into the conversation, including a dynamic panel who will address Lenguaje e Identidad / Living Language and Identity. When you visit in person, we invite you to share your own family’s migration story and add it to the map in the installation.

While we think about earthly borders, let’s make sure to also reflect on the outstanding achievements of those who have allowed us to understand what lies far beyond the Earth’s perimeter. As part of our Black History Month programming and for School’s Out, Stars Are In winter break offerings, our daily free Planetarium shows will highlight a selection of pioneering contributions and discoveries by influential Black Americans in the sciences, among them legendary NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, astronomer and cartographer Benjamin Banneker, astronaut and NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden, and X-ray physicist and engineer George Alcorn, Jr. These leaders have revolutionized scientific research, broadened our worldviews, and continue to inspire us in our educational mission.

Thank you for taking these important journeys with us.

Warmest regards,

Masha Turchinsky
Director and CEO


Top left: Portrait of Richard Misrach. Bottom left: Guillermo Galindo. Shell Piñata (Piñata de cartuchos), 2014. Sheet metal, border patrol shotgun shell casings. 17 × 30 × 30 in. (43.2 × 76.2 × 76.2 cm). Art Bridges. Photo: Courtesy of the artist, photo by Richard Misrach. Top right: Richard Misrach. Wall, Los Indios, Texas (El muro, Los Indios, Texas), 2015. Pigment print. 58 1/2 × 78 1/4 in. (148.6 × 198.8 cm). Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2017.11. Photo: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles. Bottom right: Portrait of Guillermo Galindo.