The Paradox of the Mexican-American Border: Being Stuck in the Middle of a Unity Where Coexistence Refuses to Exist




Herrera, Isabel

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Art is such a powerful catalyst for discourse on highly sensitive and polarizing issues. It shows what words cannot, often producing reactions much more potent than any piece of literature could provoke. Camilo Ontiveros’ Temporary Storage is an example of one of these simply efficacious pieces; Since seeing it for the first time almost two years ago, the image of intimate bedroom objects bound by archaic rope has not left my mind. Ontiveros demands attention for a very real issue that thousands of immigrants are facing today: the imminent threat of deportation. In my paper, I will be focusing on the Mexican-American border not as a physical marker, but rather as a cultural divide. Through researching the psychology behind attitudes toward immigration for American citizens, I will uncover how the issue has become so deeply divisive in contemporary society. I plan on highlighting the Mexican immigrant experience primarily through Ontiveros’ piece “Temporary Storage”, although I will touch on another one of his works. As a third born U.S. citizen, the Mexican immigration experience is something I feel a deep interpersonal connection to. Being both Anglo and Hispanic, I often feel stuck between the border: essentialist ideology has driven society toward exclusivity. In actuality, being a child of a mixed-race family is not only taxing in domestic dynamics, but also presents significant moral conflict in the social justice issue of immigration as a whole. Through this paper, I hope to illustrate the realities of Mexican immigrants and present an open discourse on how this influences modern art.

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