Artists Andrea Bowers and Marcos Ramirez ERRE explore issues related to borders, immigration, coexistence and social justice in an exhibition, “So Close and So Far,” Jan. 26-March 25 at the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art. An opening reception with the two artists on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 4-6 p.m. is free and open to the public.
ERRE, a multidisciplinary visual artist from Tijuana, Mexico, immigrated to the United States in 1983, worked in the construction industry for 17 years. He became an active visual artist in 1989 while still working construction. In the late 1990s, he made headlines by sculpturing a giant two-headed Trojan horse displayed at the San Ysidro-Tijuana border crossing. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Portugal, France, Spain, Russia, China, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
ERRE will premier an outdoor sculpture, “UTOPIA,” on the front lawn of the Mosher Foundation Terrace.
Andrea Bowers, a Los Angeles-based artist, met ERRE while taking students to his Tijuana studio, where they both realized they were passionate about many of the same issues. “The museum was organizing an exhibition just on Andrea’s work when she called and asked if we could add Marcos,” says Judy Larson, R. Anthony Askew professor of art history and museum director. “I was aware of Marcos’ work and the pairing seemed perfect.”
Bowers, who works with a variety of media, including video, drawing and installation, will premiere “Sanctuary,” a flashing LED light sign (11.5 ft.x7 ft.) made of recycled cardboard. The piece was inspired by the sanctuary movement of the early 1980s when congregations sheltered refugees from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The American Association of University Professors has continued the movement to college campuses. “It’s meant to protect and empower students and keep them from being deported or discriminated against,” she says.
Her work has been exhibited around the world, and was included in the 2014 La Biennale de Montral (Canada), 2014 Gwangju Biennale (South Korea) and 2014 SITE Santa Fe Biennia (New Mexico).
“This exhibition offers a powerful message about immigrants and borders and ‘welcoming the stranger’ as the Bible suggests,” Larson says. “We intend for the exhibition to spark discussions about this important topic and offer new viewpoints on human rights.”
Also on view is “Border and Immigration Photography” by Ingrid Hernandez on the second floor of Adams Center, below the museum. Hernandez established an arts center, Relaciones Inesperada, in her native Tijuana to encourage artists to move beyond the city’s reputation as a border city and discover creative dimensions within its community.
The exhibitions are sponsored by a gift from Michel W. Kidd, which is in memory of Dr. John B. Jantzen and Benjamin E. Ortega.
The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed Sundays and college holidays. For more information, please visit westmontmuseum.org or contact the museum at (805) 565-6162.