Hostile Terrain 94 and immigration stories are being showcased at UA

Monica Nakashima | @MM_nakashima, Staff Reporter

UA student organization Art Forward is preparing the final workshops for “Hostile Terrain 94,” an exhibit that showcases artwork that contemplates the border crisis and immigration in America.

“Hostile Terrain 94” was created by the Undocumented Migration Project, a nonprofit organization based out of California. The exhibit’s central piece is a wall map of the Sonoran Desert of Arizona marked with toe tags containing the known information about the people whose bodies were found at the locations pinned on the map. 

This piece, and the exhibit at large, draws attention to the human cost of the U.S. border control policies known as “prevention through deterrence.” Art Forward planned this exhibit last year, but postponed it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ivy Borden, the founder and president of Art Forward and a junior majoring in art history and interdisciplinary studies, said the workshops are designed to have an impact on the exhibit. 

“There are 3,200 toe tags that need to be filled out in order to complete the central HT94 piece,” Borden said. “We need as much help as we can get to have this main piece ready to go by the opening of the exhibition.” 

Participants are encouraged to fill out as many tags as they want during the workshop, but Borden said it’s been difficult to attract community attendance for the workshops. 

“So far, we’ve probably been averaging at 3 to 5 guests per session, but we’ve also hosted some where no one shows up at all,” Borden said. “Myself, the Art Forward Executive Board members, and UA faculty members Jared Margulies and Misha Hadar are there no matter what, filling out toe tags.” 

In addition to the main piece of “Hostile Terrain 94,” Art Forward has curated an exhibit by local artists who submitted works responding to the Mexico-United States border and immigration.

Borden said the exhibition will give people a different perspective on the ongoing border crisis through its artistic medium and message. 

“I think people, especially here in Alabama, oftentimes feel so distant from anything having to do with the border, including the people who are affected by it,” Borden said. “Art, especially collaborative art, is a great way to inspire empathy as a community and provoke discussion amidst a variety of perspectives that are all too often clouded by political divisions.”

The University of Alabama’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is promoting “Hostile Terrain 94” alongside other migration stories this month. 

University sponsors include the Collaborative Arts Research Initiative, the Department of Geography, the Department of Theatre and Dance, the Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies Program and Art Forward in collaboration with the Undocumented Migration Project.

More information on the upcoming exhibition and updates can be found on Art Forward’s Instagram page. Questions can be sent to [email protected]