There are walls all around us: from walls that hold up buildings, to walls to keep people out (or in), to the walls we put up in our minds.
It’s the idea of walls that is the subject of the new show opening Friday at Durango Arts Center.
Curated by local resident and artist Michele Sensing, “The Wall” explores every aspect of barriers – from the literal to the complicated psychological. It features artists Ryan Aragon, Sam Bridgham, Sandra Butler, James Earp, Veryl Goodnight, Ross Rudel and Sensing. The monthlong exhibit will also include artist talks, lectures, film, an artist reception and performances by 20MOONS Dance Theatre.
Sensing’s piece is specifically about the Arizona-Mexico international border. Originally from Phoenix and having grown up going back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border, she said for her, it’s personal.
“After the election, when I heard that a wall was ordered, through the very few remaining open parts in Arizona, I decided I wanted to go back down there,” said Sensing, who is curating her first show. “I want to see what it is now in case it’s not this way anymore. And I felt I think a way a lot of people felt is that I have to do something. And it’s not necessarily making a difference, but to me, I feel this is my way to show it to other people who might not have the opportunity or who might not have even thought about it.”
Sensing camped along the border for a couple of weeks in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Sasabe, Arizona, taking photographs for her piece.
Contributing to the show is Butler, DAC’s education director. At first glance, her three pieces look dainty: Crocheted doilies and bits and pieces of vintage needlework are combined with hand-stitched paper. It’s not until you get up close that you see the pieces are offset by brutal-looking barbed wire.
The work represents the complicated relationships in families, she said.
“I wanted to look at walls as far as psychological walls: Looking at how we create barriers in our own psyche,” Butler said.“I thought a lot about family and the entanglement and walls around that.”
Peter Hay, exhibits director, said the “The Wall” is a year in the making. He put out a call for open proposals, where artists can come up with their own ideas and Sensing’s was the one selected.
“Having a community arts center means taking input from the community,” he said, adding that the show has really taken shape in the last six months.
“I think it’s a really good example of what the proposal system can do,” he said. “What I like about it, too, is that it blurs all the lines of artist, curator, gallerist, there’s video, dance collaboration. There are so many different aspects in one month of programming.”
The exhibit will be up through May 26. A series of events will be held throughout the month as part of the show, including speakers, a film festival, an artist reception and a dance performance by 20MOONS Dance Theatre.