Curating at the Edge: Artists Respond to the U.S./Mexico Border (William & Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemishere)
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Located less than a mile from Juárez, the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso is a non-collecting institution that serves the Paso del Norte region. In Curating at the Edge, Kate Bonansinga brings to life her experiences as the Rubin’s founding director, giving voice to a curatorial approach that reaches far beyond the limited scope of “border art” or Chicano art. Instead, Bonansinga captures the creative climate of 2004–2011, when contemporary art addressed broad notions of destruction and transformation, irony and subversion, gender and identity, and the impact of location on politics.
The Rubin’s location in the Chihuahuan desert on the U.S./Mexican border is meaningful and intriguing to many artists, and, consequently, Curating at the Edge describes the multiple artistic perspectives conveyed in the place-based exhibitions Bonansinga oversaw. Exciting mid-career artists featured in this collection of case studies include Margarita Cabrera, Liz Cohen, Marcos Ramírez ERRE, and many others. Recalling her experiences in vivid, first-person scenes, Bonansinga reveals the processes a contemporary art curator undertakes and the challenges she faces by describing a few of the more than sixty exhibitions that she organized during her tenure at the Rubin. She also explores the artists’ working methods and the relationship between their work and their personal and professional histories (some are Mexican citizens, some are U.S. citizens of Mexican descent, and some have ancestral ties to Europe). Timely and illuminating, Curating at the Edge sheds light on the work of the interlocutors who connect artists and their audiences.
humans on the natural world. They propose solutions but also acknowledge the impossibility of reversing the damage we have caused. Some suggest methods to more equitably distribute scarce resources. Some harness humor. Almost all are of architectural scale and create a platform for something else, something surprising, to happen. By the time they met, Badgett and Lynch had earned degrees in studio art and were interested in taking their practice outside the studio. Since establishing SIMPARCH,
intermittent rumblings composed by frequent SIMPARCH collaborator Kevin Drumm. Godzilla literally embraced the architecture, his tail wrapped around a support column in the gallery at Open Satellite, a residency program for contemporary art in Bellevue, Washington, where SIMPARCH created Exhausted. Just as Illich’s writings formed a literary cornerstone for Hydromancy, Chon Noriega’s “Godzilla and the Japanese Nightmare: when Them! is U.S.” inspired Exhausted.20 Noriega notes that the Japanese
via Oregon to the Mexican border in a position of curatorial responsibility where I program exhibitions for an audience that is more than 75 percent Mexican American. I have a master of arts in art history, but no formal training in the art of Mexico or the Southwestern United States or Latin America. I needed some guidance. The Smithsonian agreed and admitted me to the program. Seminar discussions, led primarily by Smithsonian staffers, occupied the first two weeks of the fellowship and focused
constructed desires, the domestic sphere as an arena of implied but false safety, the relationship between architecture and the human body, and mentorship as an artistic endeavor. Kerry Doyle curated and developed Battleground as a complement to Equilibrium: Body as Site, co-curated by metalsmith Rachelle Thiewes and me. Equilibrium, a nineteen-artist exhibit of forty-eight wearable objects that affected sensorial experience, had been a couple of years in the making and would occupy the two
exposing of inner sanctums and private spaces via sculpture created from craft processes is not new: works of the 1970s by Judy Chicago (several plates in Dinner Party look like orifices) and Magdalena Abakanowicz (the Abakans are soft, woven, and suspended architectural-scale cavities) immediately come to mind. But these artists constructed their forms from raw material, whereas Candiani deconstructs then reconstructs existing objects. The found quilt tops are the place where dreams are