Ruth Leonela Buentello
Ruth Leonela Buentello's “Desaparecidos en el Río Bravo (Disappeared in the Río Bravo)”, an acrylic painting from 2018.

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Desaparecidos en el Río Bravo (Disappeared in the Río Bravo)
Collection of the artist

Desaparecidos en el Río Bravo is a composite image that merges one of Ruth Buentello’s family photographs with a press image of a family that was detained while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Four children and a young woman carrying a toddler surround a matriarchal figure, who holds an infant. Although the subjects’ faces are not fully defined, their weariness is palpable. A botanic pattern of cacti interrupts the brown expanse of the roughly rendered desert-like setting while water ominously rises to the knees of the figures in the foreground.

As the daughter of parents who crossed the border, Buentello says she “was moved to create a memorial to the families that are currently making the choice to take the dangerous immigration journey and disappear while attempting to cross.” Buentello frames many of her canvases with fabric borders, evoking traditions of home decoration.