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children's toys and clothes arranged in a horizontal line along the ground in the desert

What Remains

Curated by

Sidd Joag

Born out of the fault line of El Paso, one of the safest cities in the United States, and Ciudad Juarez, one of the world’s most dangerous, What Remains attempts to impart texture and nuance to the migrant experience and that of citizens of the borderlands who bear witness to the brutality inflicted on their kinfolk. The project provides windows, peering into and out from an ongoing global humanitarian crisis, assembled into a multimedia (photography, illustration, music, video, installation) and multidisciplinary (artistic, academic, activist) experience.

Grounded in nearly two decades of Monica Lozano’s photographic documentation of the migrant passage in El Paso/Juarez, the works in this exhibition – illustrations by Mabel Weber, printed matter by Iris Morales, an interactive educational space curated by Dr. Adriana Alvarez, and an ongoing community-generated sculpture – draw varied forms of expression together to more viscerally capture the entirety of the experience. What Remains imparts an understanding of the gravity of conditions that precipitate mass migration – from the act of making the perilous crossing, to the art of surviving what comes next. What Remains offers no solutions to the dire situation playing out on the Rio Grande, but rather points to the possibilities derived from bearing witness to the present, translating emotional data and applying this learning towards rehabilitative, integrative ways of supporting migrant communities and affecting public perception and policy.

What Remains is a labor of love, an invitation and a provocation, for us to collectively reassess the costs of extractive capitalism, acknowledge the migratory history of human beings and reaffirm basic values and rights of human existence.

Image detail: Monica Lozano, La Trenza, 2023, digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist

Partners and Sponsors

What Remains is organized and presented by the Art Gallery of Guelph and Musagetes in partnership with the ArtsEverywhere Festival. The Art Gallery of Guelph is grateful for the support of the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.

About the artists

Mabel Weber

Mabel is a borderland multidisciplinary artist and mother with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts from the University of Ciudad Juarez, focusing on painting and illustration. In 2006, she co-founded VIA, a nonprofit to support the arts with resources and spaces. She moved to El Paso, Texas in 2010 and became an active member of the local cultural scene. Her art is inspired by border life and its stories, with a strong emphasis on human and women’s rights. Mabel’s works involve art installations, painting and illustration.

Iris Morales

A Mexican graphic artist and mother, Iris is a passionate advocate for social justice and equality. Her time spent in Mexico and the US, as well as travel, helping clients globally, and volunteering, has broadened her knowledge of people’s strengths and struggles, while confirming the influence of graphic communication. As the co-founder of This is EME Studio, Iris drives the mission of positively impacting society through design. Her involvement with What Remains embodies her lifelong aspirations, providing a voice for those in need through her work. She dreams of reaching broader audiences across various borders to foster awareness, empathy, and compassion among people.

Dr Adriana Alvarez

Adriana worked as a bilingual teacher in El Paso, Texas for eleven years where she found her passion and commitment to improve the schooling experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse students and families. She is an Assistant Professor at the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research interests center on biliteracy and family engagement with a focus on equity-oriented and strength-based approaches in Latinx communities. Her work recently won the Excellence in Research Award at the University of Colorado Denver and has been published in top academic journals, such as the Bilingual Research Journal, Language Policy, and Equity and Excellence in Education. Adriana is Faculty Fellow at the Crown Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, and serves in several editorial boards in Bilingual Education, as well as boards of directors of non-profit social justice organizations.

Monica Lozano

Monica Lozano is a Mexican-American photographer documenting the dire conditions of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. Her work focuses on the theme of survival in borders around the world, capturing stories that are a true testament of courage. She received her Master’s Degree in Photography in Madrid, Spain in Escuela Universitaria TAI where she won a Presidential Scholarship to study the Photo Global residency at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Lozano’s socially charged portraits have been exhibited in 21 countries. She has also won various international photo competitions and has been published in various photography books. Currently she is collaborating with the Renée Crown Wellness Institute and the University of Colorado in Boulder using photography as a medium for multimodal research.

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