A work of art on immigration – AC Observer

“Ladders” In the center of the room, seven ladders are placed upright. These ladders belonged to people seeking to enter the United States.

Written by Timarea Kimbrough, Writer

Alumnus of Austin College, Scott Nicol exhibits his art at the Dennis Gallery of the Forster Art Complex. His work compiles images from various frontier scenes in southern Texas. Nicol also presents the ladders that were thrown at the border wall. Last Saturday, October 23, Nicol hosted a wonderful reception which I had the pleasure of attending. While there, Nicol shed light on his experiences at the wall and the scenarios he witnessed. I will include some of my personal favorites in this article.

When you look closely, you see that these ladders are handmade. The artist explained to me that these ladders are often constructed with scrap wood that people find around the border in the streets and are often thrown away after failed attempts to scale the border walls. In a way, the “ladders” could represent the distance people travel to take refuge from violence and poverty.

Bricks and ladders
“Prototypes. Tijuana, MX. February 2018” Pictured here are various prototypes of the potential new border wall promised by the Trump administration.
Bricks and ladders
“Border Patrol. Photograph by Eliya Zay Nicol (age 7). Donna, Tx. May 2014.” This photo was taken by a seven-year-old child who, while safe at home, took a photo three Border Patrol agents deep in conversation.

Among the main central ladders in the room, there are also pictures taken on the border and smaller pieces of ladders hanging on the walls. These ladders contain items thrown at the border as well as pieces of wall.

Bricks and ladders
“Fragments: Tijuana, MX / Brownsville, TX. Border wall fragments, beeswax, ladder. Fragments include smaller pieces of found ladders as well as pieces of wall.

These elements are combined with beeswax. The background of this room, under the beeswax, seems to resemble the wall diagrams. When I was there at the reception, the artist kindly let me touch the artwork. The wax was hard and solid, the wall pieces were firmly attached. This could be done to represent the shared history of these scales and reflect the current political climate in response to the complex US position on immigration.

Bricks and ladders
“Deterrence: Nogales, Sonora/Hidalgo, Texas, accordion wire, discarded items, beeswax, ladder.”

Deterrence is another of the smaller hanging ladders. This sculpture includes pieces of barbed wire from the top of the wall, children’s toys and shoes, a tag and a Ziploc bag containing a card of the Virgin Mary. Behind the beeswax are three portraits of a boy. The children’s toy, a small yellow helicopter, is attached to the ladder by a thin black string. These objects show the innocence of a child’s toys and the shocking reality of the barbed wire of the border wall. It can be deduced that people who cross the border do so with their young children. They may even cross over to help their children live fulfilling lives full of opportunity. However, they are deterred from crossing what is depicted through the barbed wire.

Bricks and ladders
“Relics: South Texas / East Berlin. Fragments of concrete walls, light fixtures, showcases, ladder.

In the room Relics, a piece of the berlin wall is displayed in a small box above the box is a small display light similar to those used in museums. Above the Berlin Wall display, there is a piece of the border wall in the same display case and a small light. This can be interpreted as a comment on how the border wall unfairly separates Mexico and the United States. This sculpture could also represent the historical significance of the Berlin Wall and now the Border Wall.

This showcase beautifully addresses the border wall conflict as well as the failure of the United States to resolve our immigration issues. If you can visit this exhibition, I beg you.