FOCUS: Critical Conversations with Art
Spanning more than three decades, Luis Jiménez’s body of work addresses issues affecting common people. Born in El Paso, Texas, in 1940, Jiménez was an accomplished sculptor, but was also known for his color lithographs. This lithograph, which partially depicts his now iconic sculpture, Border Crossing, speaks to the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border. Depicting a man carrying woman and an infant as they cross the Rio Grande River, the lithograph speaks to the longstanding moment of people from Mexico to the United States. It highlights and puts a human face to the plight of undocumented immigrants, who, like Jiménez’s grandparents did in the 1920s, have been crossing the border for many decades. The lithograph reminds the viewer of the fluid nature of the border – it forces us to come to grips with the fact that the space known as the “U.S.-Mexico border” has been constructed, literally and figuratively, by millions of immigrants who have carried with them their personal aspirations and dreams in the hope of building a better future. In so doing, Jiménez’s art provides a window for putting into historical perspective current debates about immigration from Latin America to the United States and for gaining a more nuanced view of the oftentimes complicated U.S.-Mexico relationship.
-Dr. Bonar Hernández, Associate Professor of History, Iowa State University