Students, faculty, staff and the public can view a pop-up art exhibit that tells the story of migrants who died while crossing the border at the “Hostile Terrain 94” grand opening 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31 in Room 304 of Classroom Hall.
Produced by the Undocumented Migration Project, the exhibit aims to bring awareness to the large number of bodies recovered between the mid-1990s and 2022 in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Conditions worsened ever since the United States Border Patrol implemented the “Prevention Through Deterrence” strategy in 1994, according to the project’s website.
Attendees will see where the bodies were found through over 3,500 toe tags geolocated on a large-scale map of the Arizona-Mexico border.
“Hostile Terrain 94” is hosted by the Department of Language, Literature and Arts, which will collaborate with the Writing, Language and Digital Composing Center.
The hosts hope to display the exhibit outside Room 304 for one full academic year.
This is the exhibit’s first visit to San Antonio. Held internationally, it also has been hosted at Texas State University, UT Austin, UTRGV and the University of Houston.
The toe tags will include the identification of the victim if known, the location of the body and the condition in which it was found along with some heartfelt messages or drawings on the back done by volunteers who helped fill out the toe tags prior to the exhibit.
Visitors can interact with the exhibit by reading the information written on the front of the toe tags or flipping them over to read the messages or view the drawings.
The toe tags were scheduled to be filled in by A&M-San Antonio students on A National Day of Writing Celebration event Oct. 19 on campus. Approximately 25 students contributed to the project in the CAB courtyard.
“So, part of the power then is that each tag is a memorial,” said Dr. Katherine Bridgman, assistant professor of English and director of the Writing, Language and Digital Composing Center.”And so the time you take to fill the tag out is also then like this embodied act of memorialization.”
The grand opening event will begin with a discussion and Q&A with special guests like Marcela Harper, an immigration attorney from the nonprofit RAICES. Harper will discuss Texas immigration policies that make it dangerous to cross the border.
This discussion also aims to encourage the public to think about “more safe and humane ways to address immigration,” said Dr. Elena Foulis, assistant professor of Spanish.
The exhibit includes collaborators from around the city. Two professors, one from the University of Texas at San Antonio and another from the University of the Incarnate Word, are having their students fill out toe tags to be displayed in the exhibit at A&M-San Antonio.
Bridgman describes the exhibit as a way for students to commemorate those who have died while crossing the border through harsh conditions.
“It creates this literal embodied moment of recognizing and remembering, bearing witness,” Bridgeman said. “Which can be very powerful in a culture that kinda forgets that we are talking about real people sometimes.”
To RSVP for the grand opening event, visit https://tamusa.campuslabs.com/engage/event/9452211.
For more information, email Dr. Elena Foulis at firstname.lastname@example.org.