Congratulations to our partners at Art Practical on their sixth annual issue of Shotgun Reviews! Today’s review is from Matthew Harrison Tedford, who offers an assessment of the exhibition at Galería de la Raza in San Francisco: “At a time when the U.S. political system is failing to address immigration and when millions of American families risk being uprooted, Carving Through Borders offered a much-needed platform for conversation.” This article was originally published on September 25, 2014.
The thirteen large-scale woodblock prints that were on display in Carving Through Borders at Galería de la Raza illustrate the varied and sometimes conflicting emotions associated with immigration, from defiance to protest to hope. Carving Through Borders is a product of a long history of political printmaking, but these works render the political especially personal, making their messages even more resonant.
The commanding size of these prints combined with the intimate, stirring texts that accompany the imagery make an emotional impression on the viewer. A piece by DJ Agana at the gallery entrance greeted visitors with a Lady Liberty–like figure in a flowing quetzal feather headdress and bearing an ear of corn in place of a torch. The words “move freely” are emblazoned at the base of the print, a more direct and defiant summation of Emma Lazarus’s poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty. This rendering reminds the viewer that Lazarus’s words have been hollowed out—it is now considered utopian for a nation to embrace the tired, poor, and homeless.