Mexico

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Art Design

Rael San Fratello's Pink Teeter-Totters at the U.S.-Mexico Border Win Beazley Design of the Year

January 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

The three neon pink seesaws that slotted through the U.S.-Mexico border were just named the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year. Conceived by Oakland-based artists Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello (previously), the playful, subversive project was installed in July 2019 between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez and physically connected the two communities despite the 20-foot barrier. The prestigious, annual award comes from London’s Design Museum.

Rael and San Fratello spent a decade working on “Teeter-Totter Wall” before its installation at the border during a particularly divisive time under the Trump administration. Although it was in use for less than an hour, the interactive work intended to foster and display unity between children and adults from both countries as they physically lifted each other up. In response to the administration separating families at the border, Rael wrote about the project:

The teeter-totters represented the kind of balance necessary for any two people, two nations, to achieve equality, with the understanding that the actions on one side have direct consequences on the other. The teeter-totter is the physical manifestation of the Golden Rule—treat others as you would like others to treat you—a maxim that is shared by all cultures and religions. To experience joy on a teeter-totter, you must allow the other person to experience joy as well.

Among the other winners are a 3D rendering of SARS-CoV-2 by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins for the CDC and Social Design Collaborative’s “ModSkool,” a moveable building that can be easily assembled and taken down in response to evictions of farming communities in India. Check out all the top designs through the museum’s virtual exhibition that runs until March 28, and head to Rael San Fratello’s site and Instagram to see more of the duo’s socially minded projects.

 

 

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Art

Mexican Artist Pedro Reyes Molds 1,527 Guns into Shovels Used to Plant Trees

December 2, 2019

Grace Ebert

Pedro Reyes is showing how an object used for harm can be molded into one that promotes life in a project titled “Palas por Pistolas.” Reyes, who originally is from Mexico City, collected 1,527 guns from the Culiacán area in Mexico. The project offered those who gave up their weapons, which were steamrolled publicly and melted, an exchange for a coupon that allowed them to buy electronics and appliances. Reyes used materials from the weapons to create shovels that were then used for planting trees. Since its completion, public schools and art institutions—from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the San Francisco Art Institute to the Maison Rouge in Paris—have received the shovels for community members to use. We have previously marveled at Reyes’ projects involving guns turned into instruments. Find more of Reyes’s work here. (via Intelligent Living)

 

 



Art Craft

An Enormous Skeleton Emerges in the Middle of a Mexican Street for Día de Muertos

October 31, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Photograph: Felipe Esteban Paredes Padrón

In celebration of Día de Muertos on November 1, Raymundo Medina built a massive skeleton that appears to be lurching out of the pavement on a street in Santa Cecilia Tláhuac, Mexico. Piles of crumbled concrete at the places where the skeleton is connected to the street create the illusion that it is bursting through the asphalt. Medina created the sculpture in the traditional aesthetic of the important Mexican holiday that celebrates deceased loved ones and ancestors. According to Mexican news site Miguel Ángel Luna, Medina is  a member of the Jaén Cartonería collective and collaborates with Yaocalli Indians in his work. Built with papier-mâché and painted with starkly delineated black and white areas, the skeleton seems to be almost smiling; Día de Muertos is more celebratory than mournful. (via @losalananaya)

Photograph: Felipe Esteban Paredes Padrón

Photograph: via local.mx

Photograph: via local.mx

Photograph: via local.mx

 

 

 



Amazing Art Design

Neighboring Communities Playfully Connect Atop Neon Pink Teetertotters Slotted Through the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

July 30, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello have long worked in activating structures in projects that blur the line between art and architecture. The Oakland-based duo, who self-describe as pursuing “applied architectural research”, also have a longstanding interest in the United States-Mexico border wall. In 2009 Rael wrote Borderwall as Architecture, which features a conceptual drawing of a teetertotter. The concept relocates the classic playground equipment to the border wall as its fulcrum. Ten years later, this cover art came to life in the neighboring communities of Sunland Park, New Mexico and Colonia Anapra, Mexico.

Constructed by Taller Herrería in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, neon pink teetertotters slot through the wall’s narrow gaps, allowing citizens on both sides to playfully engage with their cross-border counterparts. The fundamental design of the teetertotter, while delightful and chuckle-inducing, also functions by each user literally feeling the weight of humanity of the person on the other side. In an Instagram post announcing the project Rael shared, “children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.”

Rael and San Fratello worked in collaboration with Omar Rios to execute “Teetertotter Walls.” Rael is a Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and San Fratello is an Assistant Professor at San José State University. Dive into an archive of nearly twenty years of the duo’s socially engaged work on their website, and follow along with their latest projects on Instagram.

 

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Art

A Collaboratively Painted 'Mural of Brotherhood' Stretches for Over a Mile on Mexico's Border

June 26, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

All photographs courtesy of Enrique Chiu

Over the past two and a half years, nearly 4,000 volunteers have converged on the US/Mexico border to assist artist Enrique Chiu with painting a mural. Chiu began the project on Election Day in 2016, and once his collaborative project is complete, the “Mural of Brotherhood” will span a mile of Mexico’s border frontage in Tijuana. Shorter segments will also be created in other regions to connect the project to the southern edge of the border. The wide range of styles, including written phrases and more illustrative narratives reflects the diversity of those who have worked alonside Chiu to complete the expansive mural.

Chiu was born in Mexico and has spent 14 years living in the U.S., both as a child and as an adult. However, he re-rooted himself in Tijuana’s vibrant arts scene ten years ago. In an interview with Hyperallergic Chiu explained, “the murals spread messages of peace to people crossing the border by car or on foot,” and are “intended to be a final glimpse of hope for migrants risking danger as they cross northward.”

A recently released documentary by Alejandro Arguelles Benitez follows the project. You can watch the trailer below, and track the progress of the mural on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 



Illustration

The Moon's Magical Mythology Captured in an Illustrated Book by David Álvarez

January 17, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In Noche Antigua (Ancient Night) an opossum and a rabbit work together—and against each other—to create and maintain the sun and the moon. The book, written in Spanish and illustrated by Mexico-based artist David Álvarez (previously) is based on elements from ancient myths in several Central American cultures. Álvarez captures a sense of quiet magic with the simplified forms and hushed tones of his illustrations, which seem to glow from the illumination of the moon. You can see more of the artist’s work on Instagram and his Etsy shop, and find a hardcover copy of Noche Antigua on Amazon.

 

 

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