Border Doors and the Unmasking of the Zones of Meaning
Image of door from the exhibit.

A new exhibit, Border Doors and the Unmasking of the Zones of Meaning, will be in place at locations on campus and at the National Hispanic Cultural Center from March 28 through April 20. An opening reception with presentations by the student artists will be held on April 7 from 2-4 p.m. in the Zimmerman Library Learning Commons.

The exhibit is comprised of 18 doors created by high school students enrolled in the Sandia Preparatory School class The Neglect of Women Workers and the New Era of Hope.

The advanced Spanish-language course taught by Claudio Pérez, a faculty member with the school’s Modern Language Department. In the course Pérez encourages students to think deeply about issues related to immigration, from immigrants' lived experiences to the complex historical relationship between the United States, Mexico, and Central America.

Students studied this topic in their classrooms in Albuquerque and through a fieldtrip to the U.S-Mexico border when they visited the Border Immersion Program at Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey in El Paso, Texas.

Throughout the semester, Pérez relied on Nazario's Enrique's Journey to present a compelling and informative account of immigrants' experiences traveling through Central America to the United States. 

At the end of the term, Pérez invited the students to express their thoughts, responses, and realizations by using the doors as canvases for mixed-media collages.

The exhibit is organized as part of a year-long comprehensive program of curricular and co-curricular activities relating to the 2015-16 Lobo Reading Experience selection, Enrique’s Journey.

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario, this non-fiction account documents the traumatic and harrowing experience of a young Honduran boy, Enrique, as he makes the journey alone from Honduras to the United States to reunite with his mother eleven years after she left her home country in pursuit of a better life for her family.

Border Doors and the Unmasking of the Zones of Meaning exhibit is a collaboration between Sandia Preparatory School, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and multiple UNM entities, including Chicana and Chicano Studies, Department of Anthropology, Department of History, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, El Centro de la Raza, Latin American & Iberian Institute, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology Hibben Center, Office of Student Academic Success, Southwest Hispanic Research Institute, and University Libraries.

View the Border Doors at the following UNM locations
Zimmerman Library Learning Commons
Latin American and Iberian Institute
Hibben Center
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
El Centro de la Raza
Department of History
Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies

Curator’s Statement
Border Doors and the Unmasking of the Zones of Meaning is an art project I initiated two years ago with my students. This artistic piece commemorates the innumerable acts of brutality against immigrants making the journey to the United States.

One of the acts that inspired me was the massacre of the 72 migrants in Tamaulipas, Mexico in 2010. These immigrants were on a precarious voyage to the Land of their Dreams.

During their journey they had to endure routes operated by murders, rapist, and corrupt officials. This route has been regarded as “one of the most perilous migration routes in the world.”   

Every year thousands of migrants from Central America and Mexico make this dangerous trip. The project was also inspired by Cristo Rey’s week-long Border Immersion Program that I had been exploring with my students over the past three years, and Enrique’s Journey, by Sonia Nazario. 

I want my students to put a human face on the ongoing debate over immigration reform and engage them in meaningful discussion.

Claudio Pérez, Modern Language Department, Sandia Preparatory School