McLane’s Vida en las Sombres: Living in the Shadows
The three panels displayed are a part of a larger installation held at the Artes Americas Museum in Fresno during the summer of 2012, created by ArtVenture Academy students from McLane High School in Fresno. The exhibit was inspired by a book by Margaret Reagan, entititled “The Death of Josselina”.
The installation included sixty assemblage paintings on panels mounted on museum walls, a re-creation of the Southwest desert (desert murals, wildlife sculptures, immigrant artifacts, and landscape features). A replica of the U. S. border fence was erected down the center of the museum. Plastic life-sized human figures (created out of clear tape) were placed on each side of the fence, representing the Mexican side and the American side. All of the art was inspired by student writing.
The artwork was generated by student stories. Students were encouraged to go to family members and friends and write stories detailing the undocumented experiences of these people. These stories, over four hundred, were then brought to the art department. Student artists selected the stories they wanted to make a piece of art from. Other art classes created the desert landscapes, the border fence, plastic artifacts and figures, and desert landscape articles. Over 700 McLane students participated in this project.
Melissa Reimer: English Language Arts
Manuel Bonilla: Video Production
Donny Garcia: English Language Arts
Matthew Marhenke: Art Teacher
Rommel Contreras: Art Teacher
Paul Germain: Art Teacher
Marc Patterson: Art Teacher
The Stories: Students were taught how to interview and write stories about being undocumented in the United States. Over 300 stories were collected from students. All the writing went to the art department, which informed all the art for the project.
Door Panels: Over sixty blank doors panels were painted in a variety of media to illustrate the student stories of immigration and being undocumented. Media included assemblage, acrylic paint, spray paint, and enamel paint.
The Border Fence: A replica of the border fence was erected and placed down the center of the main gallery to represent two sides of the border. Graffiti was painted on the fence with student generated slogans.
People Sculptures: Students built life-size figures of people, inspired by student stories, out of clear plastic tape. They were place in, on and around the border fence to accurately depict events from the stories.
The Desert Landscapes: Art classes manufactured detailed and highly accurate landscapes that protruded out from painted desert landscape panels to create a three dimensional affect. Immigration text was spray painted on the vertical landscapes. Students made sculptures of birds and reptiles found in the desert. Desert bushes and cactus were created using wire and fabric to represent a very realistic desert scene.
Migrant Artifacts: All throughout the landscapes, other art classes made migrant artifacts (backpacks, plastic bottles, books, clothing etc.) out of clear plastic tape. These artifacts were strewn throughout the desert landscapes to represent areas along the southern border where border crossers changed clothing and left articles in heaps throughout the landscape.