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montage from ITC exhibit
Flag montage from exhibit

ITC touring exhibit on immigration runs through Jan. 14

By Mary Grace Ketner
Curator, UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures

(Dec. 19, 2006)--A multimedia exhibit at UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) chronicles the hot-topic issues of immigration on the Mexico-U.S. border.

"Seven-String Barbed Wire Fence: Many Faces of Latino Immigration in the United States" runs through Jan. 14, 2007.

The exhibit documents events that have garnered national attention, and profiles the lives of Latino migrants in the United States through the eyes of New Mexico photojournalist Diana Molina. Stunning large-scale photography, haunting video, three-dimensional installations and informative text and historical content depict the stories and opinions of those most impacted by the current immigration system.

Now an El Paso, Texas-based photographer and writer, Molina created the uniquely balanced, artistic and humanizing photographic exhibit to document the post-9/11 arguments and effects of Latino immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border.

"During the years I've spent documenting the debate over the issue of immigration, marching alongside unauthorized migrants in the desert and in protest, accompanying Minutemen on nighttime border patrols, walking lengths of the wall that divide the United States and Mexico, I've seen a dire need for dialogue and information, if we are to progress," Molina said. "This project aims to provide that information and spur that dialogue by providing a compelling account of the issue."

She and the exhibit's co-producer, Jake Rollow, a reporter with the El Paso Times, traveled the Deep South on the Houston-based namesake route of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride in 2003 and embedded themselves among the Minuteman border patrollers when they launched their mission in 2005 and then came to Texas later that year.

"There are no simple answers," according to John Davis, ITC executive director. "For many, this issue strikes at the very heart of what our forefathers envisioned when they founded a nation of immigrants. Others believe that true national security depends on America's ability to effectively secure her borders. This exhibit will give these varying perspectives a voice."

The exhibit is sponsored in part by Humanities Texas and the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, the state partners of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Texas-based Summerlee Foundation; and the City of El Paso Museum and Cultural Affairs Department. The exhibit was launched in August as the feature exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History.

A selection of the exhibit's images is in the permanent collection at the University of Texas at Austin Benson Latin American Collection and the University of Texas at El Paso Special Collections Library.

For more information on the exhibit, call (210) 458-2330.

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UTSA's Institute of Texan Cultures is San Antonio's cultural-experience museum. Established as the Texas State Exhibits Building for HemisFair in 1968 and later designated as a campus of The University of Texas at San Antonio, the museum has spent nearly 40 years telling the stories of Texas' diverse citizens and inviting guests to join in the celebration of Texas' multicultural heritage. ITC is home to the Texas Folklife Festival, Asian Festival and six other cultural events. The museum is closed Mondays.

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