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Border Environment

Art and Life on The Border

Tyson Z. Wilson

[University of Texas at El Paso]



The opinions of immigration and the border wall stretch from one extreme to the other. Interestingly enough many of the opinions that are most loudly expressed are from people who are not directly or even indirectly affected. Those most closely affected by the wall have used art to communicate thoughts and feelings that often go ignored. This essay reviews previous research on the use of art to communicate thoughts and feelings associated with immigration and the border wall. The research considers different art mediums in which a variety of feelings are expressed. The review will expand the opportunities for people to engage with art to express the environment immigration and the border wall create. Comment by Peterson, Tarla R: Not sure this sentence belongs in abstract. Abstract should focus on summarizing this particular review (which is about art on the border I assume). Your review, of course, should be more expansive and providing context for your focal point (which is what this sentence is part of) is important.



[Art on the Border]

[Border Environment]

[Border Life]1

Immigration and border issues are not new, but it seems that more recently the politicization over the border wall has turned it into a prop for those that have little to nothing to do with the day-to-day interactions. Using art to communicate feelings and emotions of those most affected by the border wall and immigration as a whole allows a myriad of voices to be heard and the plight of so many to be honored if only in small increments.


Walls are used to protect, and walls are used to divide, in regard to the border wall, the opinion of which one it is intended to be, depends on whose perspective it comes from. In the search to understand the history of immigration, the border, and the wall used to define it, we must reflect on the history, society and culture that are reflected in it (Levi & del Rio, 2016). The border and its subsequent wall are non-tangible for most Americans and yet the decisions that create how it is defined do not take into account those that are actually affected. The relationship between the United States and Mexico directly affects over 12 million people who live within 100 miles of the border (Felbab-Brown, 2017). It is important to point out that the direct impact on those 12 million people has been given very little consideration on how they are impacted.


There is a thought that comes to mind when discussing the border wall, that it will keep out the bad things. In this political environment, it is hard to imagine that the actual physical wall has only been in place for the last few decades. The buildup of immigration enforcement and the tactical shift toward walls and intensive frontal policing in heavily traveled corridors began in late 1993 (Heyman, 2008). Ironically, the physical wall itself does not enhance U.S. security (Felbab-Brown, 2017), but in this political climate it is held up as if it does. In reality, the wall serves as a visual confirmation of separation. The separation that many feel is necessary to feel secure. The wall verifies the fruition of fears that come to the surface when in reality is a misled ideal. It is the wall that conceptualizes the metaphorical walls that have been born of racism, fear, and avarice throughout the United States” (Antoszek, 2018). That is the reality, especially in post 9-11. With the creation of Homeland Security, security of the border moved into their jurisdiction a

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