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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: On Hostile Terrain

Undocumented Migration Project

Artist Nayda Collazo-Llorens is designing a localized, text-based installation complementing the national "Hostile Terrain 94" display at the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College.

The project memorializes those who have died while trying to cross the Sonoran Desert from Mexico into Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. It lifts up the lives of all who have been affected by the perilous journey to cross the border between Mexico and the United States.

A conversation with Nayda Collazo-Llorens

“Hostile Terrain 94 is a participatory art project that was originally organized and sponsored by the Undocumented Migration Project,” Collazo-Llorens says. “They are a nonprofit, inter-disciplinary, research-art-education-media collective. They’ve been doing research for many years. It’s a really involved and impressive project that includes ethnography, archeology, anthropology, and forensic anthropology. It’s a great project.”

Credit Patricia Villalobos Echeverría
Nayda Collazo-Llorens

To date, Collazo-Llorens says 3,200 toe tags have been created with information about those who have died trying to cross the border. They include short stories about them and their lives. Her hope is to collect more stories from migrants and family members in the greater Kalamazoo area to add to a companion installation at the Arcus Center.

“The Arcus Center invited me not just to help out with Hostile Terrain 94, they also invited me to design and produce a wall installation to accompany the project,” she says. “The idea of voices was very present in their invitation. And as soon as I started to think about it, because Hostile Terrain is so much about data and so much about the bodies that have been found in the desert, I wanted to bring in the voices, the memories of either people who have crossed the border or family members of people who have died while crossing the border. The work will include text collected from oral history archives but we also want to include local voices.”

All contributions to the project will remain anonymous. Contributors have the option of submitting stories in writing, video, or audio to Arcus Center. For more information, contact the Arcus Center Art Coordinator at: julie (dot) marron-parker (at) kzoo (dot) edu.

Collazo-Llorens hopes to complete the Kalamazoo project by October 2021.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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