Students & community collaborators create 'Disrespecting the Border' mural


Pitt PhD candidate Camilo Ruiz (BCHS/Anthropology '20) collaborated with artists Leah Patgorski of the Other Border Wall Project and Gil Rocha from border-town Laredo, Texas, on a community mural-making workshop resulting in a magnificent art piece entitled "Disrespecting the Border."

From October 11-15, Rocha led the workshop for designing and creating the mural which reflects trajectories of migration through vehicles. Constructed from the elements of participants' everyday life, these vehicles carry memories of homelands, Spanglish, motives for migration, research, music, knowledge, and other elements. They all are connected and pulled by a caracol encapuchadx, a hooded or masked snail in honor of rebelliousness and freedom, critical forces for enduring dark times. 

The mural was created collectively over five-day process by a diverse group in terms of genders, ages, national origins, and professions. Nine women and ten men joined the mural painting process. People's age ranges oscillated between 7 to 50 years old. Participants described their origins as Chilean, Colombian, Salvadorian, Guatemalan-American, Mexican, Mexican-American, and American. The group was composed of students from primary school to grad school, graffiti artists, constructors, artists, filmmakers, merchants, and professors.

The design of this project is a joint effort from a University of Pittsburgh multidisciplinary team of grad students and professors representing anthropology, communication, education, history of art, and public health. Thanks to Pitt's Hispanic Heritage Month committee, the Year of Creativity initiative, and community partner Casa San Jose for their support of this effort to dignify and make visible the Latinx presence in Pittsburgh.




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