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Border Crossing in a Trump Era

Posted on July 5, 2017 at 10:51 AM by Jami Milne

Border Crossing, 1989 by Luis Jiménez (Latino American, 1940 - 2006). Fiberglass with urethane finish. Dimensions: 127 x 34 x 54 in. (322.6 x 86.4 x 137.2 cm).

Purchased by the College of Consumer and Family Sciences. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Located at MacKay Hall, South courtyard, Iowa State University. Object Number: U2000.67


You'll read in the University Museums Mission & Goals that we exist to foster understanding and delight in the visual arts with a focus on the creative interactions in arts, sciences and technology. The University Museums nurture knowledge of and appreciation for the University's cultural heritage and its present cultural context

As we review our works of art, it's apparent we can encourage dialogue surrounding the intersection of current events and the artists and objects within our collection. We welcome your interest, perspective and comments. 



We saw this story come through Boston's NPR news station and this sculpture within our Art on Campus program came to mind. You can find the full story here. And you can locate Border Crossing in the South courtyard of MacKay Hall on the campus of Iowa State University.


About Border Crossing

Border Crossing, a totem-like sculpture, is one of Luis Jiménez's signature works of art. The sculpture is of a man crossing the border carrying a woman on his shoulders. The woman holds an infant in her arms, sheltering the child from the elements. The sculpture commemorates the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans who have travelled across the southwestern border from Mexico into the United States in search of a better life. The sculpture is a celebration of the immigrant and is dedicated to Jiménez's father.

The style of Border Crossing is typical of Jiménez's other works of art with larger-than-life figures. These figures are depicted in motion to give the feeling of movement towards a goal and a will to survive. At the same time the figures appear fixed in time, exposed and in peril. The sculpture is made of fiberglass, a medium which Jiménez prefered over glass, metal or wood sculpture. Crafting in fiberglass allows the illusion of a flawless finish and gives a look of mass production. The color is a jet aircraft acrylic urethane which is applied to the fiberglass. Once the sculpture is finished, an extraordinarily tactile surface is left, which is a hallmark of Jiménez's style.

Luis Jiménez was born in El Paso, Texas in 1940. After high school he attended the University of Texas and Cuidad Universritaria, Mexico City. Upon completion of his studies he moved to New York City in 1966 where he assisted Seymour Lipton, an accomplished artist whose artwork can also be seen at Iowa State). Jiménez is known for his large polychrome fiberglass sculptures of Southwestern and Hispanic themes that capture the everyday person as a hero. Fiberglass is a medium which Jiménez preferred and crafting in fiberglass allowed the illusion of a flawless finish. As an artist, Jiménez was fascinated with popular culture, relating his art to everyday experiences. The art he produces is very personal and he has established himself as a role model for people both inside and outside of the Latino community. Jiménez was named a Goodwill Ambassador by the City of Houston and was awarded the Governor's Award in New Mexico in 1993. In 1998, Jiménez became a Distinguished Alumni of the University of Texas for his influential art. He died in June 2006 at his studio in Hondo, New Mexico.

For more information on the artist, including his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, visit here.

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