September 15, 2016 - February 3, 2017

Project Space

Community Through Action features the work of a variety of local transborder agents in the binational region of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua while documenting three main community-based art practices: community through site, service, and subject. The nature of this region, rather than a duality, is a fusion of two nations, which in turn becomes its own entity. Thus, the border is embedded in the work featured here and plays an important role in the exhibition. The approach is to view the border as a cradle for artistic ignition and to trace the steps of current professionals working in a reciprocal relationship of influence with the border: Nómada Laboratorio Urbano, Creative Kids, and Monica Lozano.



Nómada Laboratorio Urbano is a collective of experimental agents in the border region made up of social architect, photographer, co-founder, and collective director Miguel Mendoza M., co-founder and researcher Evangelina Cordero, co-founder and sociologist Andrés Mendoza, cultural manager Miguel Mendoza R., sociologist Génesis Rodríguez and photographer and researcher Erick García. The group, primarily active in the city of Juarez, works with the community as active agent in its urban and social context seeking the consolidation of urban space and citizen. This approach features an interdisciplinary activism that fosters the creation and development of cultural projects often executed in a “pop up” style. Another distinctive characteristic of the collective is the use of pallets to create recycled structures under the method of tactical urbanism and “upcycling.”

Among Nómada’s recent projects is Proyecto 3042, a sociocultural intervention that engaged students from junior high during the months of August to December of 2015. Other interventions include Escuelas Participativas, El Puesto (in collaboration with border art collective Los Dos) Mobiliario Oruga, La Raza Comedor Urbano, PechaKucha Pop-Up, Pabellón Octavio Paz for the 2014 Book Fair in Juarez, Comparte la Mesa Foodtruck Park 2014, Patio Market (Bazar  del Monu), Monu-Games and Photobooth Urbano (La Toma de Juarez 2014). Nómada operates in a ludic manner with a solid mission.




Community-based, non- profit organization Creative Kids was founded by UTEP alumni Andrea Gates Ingle and Stephen Ingle.  Its impact on the community and artistic practice has provided high quality service, where the visual arts act as a tool to empower youth. Art, then, functions as a catalyst for the development of sectors in the border region and is not the end but the means of the organization. The children and youth that are part of the diverse programs offered by Creative Kids obtain an advanced level of education and produce artwork of exceptional quality.
The different programs provided by the organization include Project Arts-in-Motion (AIM), Project Art Brokers’ Learning Experiences (ABLE), Early College High School Program, Kids in Migrant Families, Little Picassos, and Open Art Studio. Creative Kids has also received national recognition as Best-Practice model from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Project ABLE as Best-Practice Model from Texas A&M and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the First Lady, Michelle Obama.



Monica Lozano is a Mexican-American photographer who draws from her border roots to produce elegant, enigmatic, and powerful photographs that often deal with the theme of crossing borders and seek to dignify the subjects portrayed. Lozano, who was born in El Paso and raised in Juarez, works with community members as subjects and both engages and embeds them into her photography. Her unique perspective on blurred boundaries and personal border background are reflected in her evolving relationship with the community.

Lozano claims to see life with binational eyes. The ever-present influence of her binational upbringing has played a key role in her professional development and identity as an artist. At the international level, her “Borders” series is a visual compilation of decontextualized images featuring the unusual stories of individuals struggling to cross over the borders of Germany, Italy, Morocco, Spain, and the United States among others. Particular to this region, her “Juarez 03.11” series reflects Lozano’s search for beauty in the darkest places. Through her personal connection to the city, the photographer communicates through her work a multidimensional truth about the city of Juarez: through the masks, violence and death, through the colors and the people, an alternate vivacity of coexisting realities.



Community Through Action: Site, Service, Subject is the result of a yearlong investigation by current undergraduate Arelí Rocha under the mentorship of Kerry Doyle, director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. Through the SURPASS and MERITUS programs of the Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI), Ms. Rocha was awarded with a two-part research opportunity that began in the summer of 2015 and extended through May 2016. As a SURPASS scholar, Ms. Rocha began to research the exposure of Studio Art students at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to current opportunities offered by the Museum and Cultural Affairs Department. The objective was to explore these opportunities, analyze the skills of the university, and propose a plan that aligned through professional development, the preparation of the students with the needs of the city. Through the MERITUS program, an expansion of this research took place during the academic year of 2015-2016, in which different transborder agents were chosen on the basis of their community-based art practices. The focus of this research was to provide a model to students and emerging artists by tracing the professional development of the aforementioned agents. The culminating exhibition serves then, not only as documentation of these practices, but also as a platform for critical thinking and dynamic engagement to the broader binational community. 

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