Ladders and Walls: An Art Piece on Immigration

Bricks and Ladders
“Ladders” In the center of the room, there are seven ladders positioned upright. These ladders belonged to people seeking access into the United States.

Written by Timarea Kimbrough, Writer

Austin College alum, Scott Nicol is exhibiting his art in the Dennis Gallery of the Forster Art Complex. His work compiles pictures of different scenes at the border in south Texas. Nicol also features the ladders that were discarded at the border wall. Last Saturday, October, 23, Nicol held a wonderful reception that I had the pleasure of attending. While there Nicol shed a light on his experiences at the wall and the scenarios he witnessed. I will include some of my personal favorites within this article.

 When you look closely you see that these ladders are hand-made. The artist explained to me that these ladders are often built with scrap wood that people find around the border on the streets and are often discarded after failed attempts of climbing over the border walls. In a way, “Ladders” could represent the lengths people will go to seek refuge away from violence and poverty.

Bricks and Ladders
“Prototypes. Tijuana, MX. February 2018” In this photo, there are different prototypes of the potential new border wall promised by the Trump Administration.
Bricks and Ladders
“Border Patrol. Photograph by Eliya Zay Nicol (age 7). Donna, Tx. May 2014.” This photo was taken by a seven-year-old who, while in the safety of their home, took a picture of three border patrol officers mid-conversation.

Among the main central ladders within the room, there are also photos taken at the border and smaller pieces of ladders hung up on the walls. These ladders contain items discarded at the border as well as pieces of the wall.

Bricks and Ladders
“Fragments: Tijuana, MX / Brownsville, TX. Border wall fragments, beeswax, ladder.” Fragments includes smaller pieces of the ladders found as well as the pieces of the wall.

  These elements are combined with beeswax. The background of this piece, under the beeswax, seems to look like diagrams of the wall. When I was there during the reception the artist kindly let me touch the art piece. The wax was hard and solid, the pieces of the wall were firmly set in place. This could be done to represent the common story of these ladders and reflect the current political climate in response to the United States’ complex immigration stance. 

Bricks and Ladders
“Deterrence: Nogales, Sonora / Hidalgo, Texas, Concertina wire, discarded possessions, beeswax, ladder.”

Deterrence is another one of the smaller hung ladders. This sculpture includes pieces of barbed wire from the top of the wall, children’s toys and shoes, a tag, and a Ziploc bag containing a card of the virgin Mary. Behind the beeswax is three portraits of a boy. The children’s toy, a small yellow helicopter and is attached to the ladder by a thin black string. These items show the innocence of a child’s toys and the jarring reality of the border wall’s barbed wire. We can infer that the people who cross the border are doing so with their small children. They may even be crossing to help their children live a fulfilling life full of opportunities. However, they are deterred from crossing which is represented through the barbed wire.

Bricks and Ladders
“Relics: South Texas / East Berlin. Concrete wall fragments, lights, vitrines, ladder.”

In the piece Relics, a piece of the Berlin wall is showcased in a small box above the box is a small display light similar to the ones used in museums. Above the display of the Berlin wall, there is a piece of the border wall in the same display case and a small light. This can be interpreted as a commentary on how the border wall separates Mexico and the United States unrightfully. This sculpture could also represent the historical significance of both the Berlin Wall and now the Border Wall.

This showcase beautifully touches on the border wall conflict as well as the United States’s lack in addressing our immigration issues. If you can go and visit this exhibit I implore you to do so. 

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