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For artist, found objects humanize migrant journey

"Picking Up the Pieces," an exhibit of artwork inspired by items left behind by migrants crossing the deserts of Southern Arizona, opened Tuesday at the University of Arizona School of Art.

Artist Deborah McCullough has been been walking migrant trails for years, collecting objects left behind by border crossers, and using them to create her installations.

"I find ... personal items, an embroidered cloth used for wrapping tortillas, a child's toy, a baby carrier, a Bible or a notebook with hand-written prayers," McCullough said.

What inspires her work? McCullough hopes to appeal to the viewer's sense of humanity.

"My objective is to present these things in such a way that the viewer is reminded that these are human beings who are walking mile after mile; people who are caught in a political web," said McCullough. "They are people struggling to feed their families or they may be people trying to return to families in the USA."

The exhibit, produced in collaboration with UA's Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, is open through Oct. 31, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p .m, in the Lionel Rombach Gallery, 1031 N. Olive Rd., Rm. 108.

A closing reception, Nov. 1, 1:30-3 p.m., will be held in conjunction with the center's Full Circle: Confluencenter Explores the the Sounds, Tastes and Sights of Death.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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1 comment on this story

Oct 26, 2014, 12:58 pm
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Hey I could add dirty underwear, tampons millions of plastic bottles, jackets, and every other artifact known to man. She should come down and clean up the mess these border jumpers make. It isn’t art, its litter and it is piling up in large quantity in some places. Close the border now… CTBN…... I am always reminded that these are Human beings when I see the trash. Just google immigrant trash in the desert pics and you will see horrific “Art” left behind by the horde of border jumpers.

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Click image to enlarge

Courtesy of Deborah McCullough

Title: 'Why Does God Allow Suffering?' Artist's description: People risk their lives to walk the migrant trails. They leave behind personal items, ones that remind us of their humanity, their desperation and their determination. As I created this shrine, I thought of the faith of the person who carried this book. That person walked a trail through an area that has been walked throughout the centuries. Did he ask himself, 'Why does God allow suffering?'

If you go

  • What: Picking Up the Pieces: Artifacts From the Migrants' Journey
  • Where: Lionel Rombach Gallery, Rm. 108, 1031 N. Olive Rd., UA School of Art
  • When: Oct. 21-Oct. 31, Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.,
  • Chat with the artist, Tues, Oct 28, 3-5 p.m.
  • Closing Reception, Nov. 1, Sat., 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m.