Borderlands of conflict depicted in exhibition at ASU’s Northlight Gallery


July 2, 2018

In the timely exhibition “Toward Reconciliation, Away,” Arizona State University’s Northlight Gallery in the School of ArtThe School of Art is part of ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. features the contemporary photographs of Wendy Babcox, Tom Kiefer and Terri Warpinski, who capture the borderlands of conflict where past disputes have been reconciled or where attempts to reconcile have been futile and conflict continues. Historical photographs from the world-class Solari Foundation Collection housed at Northlight Gallery provide context for the continuing dialogue.

Throughout recorded history, the borders of nations have been areas of change shaped by social, economic and cultural pressures as well as violent conflict. Seemingly static delineations on a map are in reality areas of continuous flux. Even when land rights are not in dispute, borderlands are spaces where cultures meet and mix, influencing people on both sides, and where fortunes can be made and inequities starkly expressed. "Dino," by Tom Kiefer, is featured in the Northlight show "Toward Reconciliation, Away." Kiefer photographed items confiscated from undocumented migrants when they were taken into custody at the U.S.-Mexico border, such as toys, water bottles, phone cards, rosaries, tools, toothbrushes, wallets and small religious icons.

Warpinski’s project “Surface Tension” juxtaposes two geographies half a world apart, the U.S-Mexico borderland and the Palestinian territories, in parallel with present-day Berlin. Warpinski writes, “Through these photographs I probe varying aspects of power and conflict and the consequences incurred when national desires for security dominate other social or environmental concerns.” Her images of Berlin depict the space of reconciliation. In places, sections of the wall have been left standing as markers, and documentation at these sites gives historical context to its role post-World War II.

Kiefer made his photographs in his home studio in Ajo, Arizona, less than 50 miles from the border with Mexico. In 2003 he took a job as a janitor for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Processing Facility in Why, Arizona. While sifting through garbage bags looking for nonperishable food items he had been given permission to donate to a local food shelter, Kiefer discovered the plethora of items confiscated from undocumented migrants when they were taken into custody. He started collecting and eventually photographing the items deemed hazardous or non-essential by border agents, things like water bottles, phone cards, rosaries, tools, toothbrushes, wallets, blankets, backpacks, small religious icons and children’s toys. His images act as artifacts of the migrants’ journey and link the viewer to their lives.

Babcox’s images of the ancient olive trees of the Gethsemane Garden link current-day Jerusalem, one of the most conflicted cities in the world, to its past. Considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — Jerusalem is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority as its capital. Carbon dating of the olive trees has shown that the oldest trees date from as early as 1092. Babcox printed the suite of 23 tree portraits in the historical process of photogravure. Selecting each tree from its background, she emphasizes their individual character and beauty with a visual eloquence that serves to excise it from the continuing conflict.

Historical stereographic cards and albumen travel photography from the Solari Foundation Collection depict some of the very same trees around the turn of the 20th century as well as other culturally significant sites in and near Jerusalem.

“Toward Reconciliation, Away” engages the viewer in a timely discussion of global issues, some of which originate close to home  for Arizonans. Kiefer’s photographs do not employ the emotionally distraught faces of migrant children separated from their parents; rather his colorful arrangements of their personal belongings might give a viewer time to thoughtfully consider the implementation of U.S. immigration law when she recognizes that the toy depicted in Kiefer’s photograph is beloved by her child too.

“Toward Reconciliation, Away” opens on Sept. 21 at Northlight Gallery at Grant Street Studios, 605 E. Grant St., Phoenix, with a reception and gallery talk by Kiefer at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.). Warpinski and Babcox will give talks on Oct. 5 and 19, respectively, and the show runs through Oct. 19.

For additional information, contact Liz Allen, lizallen@asu.edu.

ASU TRIO Talent Search program celebrates successful first year, college-bound grads


July 2, 2018

The TRIO Talent Search program at Arizona State University launched in spring 2017 through a partnership with the Tolleson Union High School District.

The federally-funded, precollege program provides academic support, university exposure and the resources to help first-generation or low-income high school students graduate ready to succeed in college. Through a partnership between ASU and the Tolleson Union High School District, the inaugural class participated in activities focused on academic enrichment, college enrollment and the financial aid process, and developing their potential through emotional and experiential support. TRIO Talent Search Class of 2018 The ASU TRIO Talent Search Class of 2018 celebrated their achievements at a ceremony at ASU's West campus on May 8, 2018. Photo by Spencer Brown. Download Full Image

As Talent Search participants, the students worked with coaches to develop an individualized college preparation plan tailored to their interests and goals.

The students, university and school district leaders, and family and friends celebrated a successful first year of the program with an end-of-year ceremony and recognition program presented May 8 at ASU’s West campus. 

According to Talent Search Director Carolina Luque Rodriguez, 55 members of the class of 2018 will attend Arizona community colleges and universities this fall. An additional 15 to 20 program participants are on track to complete the requirements for college enrollment this summer. 

This trailblazing group of college-bound students will now embark on the next step to achieving their degree, leaving a legacy for future TRIO Talent Search classes. 

Karen Peraza, a student from Copper Canyon High School, joined TRIO Talent Search in her junior year as a way to learn more about college and how to get there. She says the program taught her about applying for scholarships, preparing for interviews and the importance of community service. 

“It’s taught me about college life, so I feel like I’m prepared. I’m ready for it, and I’m really thankful,” Peraza said.

Peraza will be attending ASU in the fall and will study kinesiology, with a plan to continue her education in physical therapy.

Caleb Monge from La Joya Community High School was another student speaker and also joined the program in his junior year. He says the constant guidance from program coaches and reminders about things like the FAFSA and college applications helped him succeed.

“She really encouraged me — Ms. Borja — because she was always motivating me and she’s the reason why I’m here today and going to ASU,” he said.

Monge will also attend ASU in the fall and study medical microbiology.

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