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Art exhibit at ASU includes materials originally intended for border wall

An exhibition at ASU's Art Museum this October is using art to provide a new perspective on how we discuss our country's borders.

PHOENIX — Two artists are using their talents to reframe conversations about the border through an exhibition at ASU’s Art Museum.

The exhibition, which runs through October 30, is called “A Country is Not a House".

It features the work of architect and professor Ronald Rael of the University of California-Berkeley and his creative partner, professor Virginia San Fratello of San Jose University.

The exhibition includes drawings, prints, models, videos and sculptural installations inspired by the Southwest.

“There’s a beautiful saying in Mexico, ‘Las Fronteras nos dividend pero las tierras nos unen.’ That means borders divide us but the land unites us and I think it’s very important to think about how we share our common landscape,” Rael told 12News.

The exhibition features two large, stunning structures. One is a shelter built with material taken from the southern border. It was intended to be used to extend the border wall under former President Donald Trump. The extension was abandoned when Trump left office.

“The structure is intended to imagine a place where people can come together. And to use it after the exhibition, as an actual place where people can come together,” Rael said. He envisions the structure to be a “spiritual” gathering place at the border.

Another structure features a bedroom and kitchen that someone might see in a typical house. Both rooms are perfectly divided in half and connected to each other.

“One side looks like a house you might find in Mexico. A kitchen, dining space and bedroom, so you see these two worlds that are very close together, The United States and Mexico,” Rael said. “You see how that’s reflected not only in the architecture, the building itself, the way it’s constructed, the thickness of the walls, and the artifacts that are in this structure.”

Rael garnered publicity in 2019 when he installed teeter-totters at the border wall meant to show the border is a place where families and children live on both sides.

The art pieces at ASU are intended to add depth and complexity to what is often a tense political debate.

“The borderlands aren’t two sides divided by a wall, but in fact, this is just one landscape,” Rael said.

Admission to the exhibit at the ASU Art Museum is free.

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