Rigoberto A. González
A family of refugees using a ladder climb over a border wall.

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Refugees Crossing the Border Wall into South Texas
Valmar Private Collection

Despite the ever-present news stories about the Mexico-U.S. border, as Rigoberto Gonzalez contends, the region itself remains nebulous. It feels like a space that is transnational, one that is both inclusive and exclusionary.

This painting monumentalizes the very act of crossing this threshold with its allusions to seventeenth-century Baroque art. Each figure emerges out of darkness, light accentuating their worried expressions. Their arms and hands touch, forming an almost continuous line from mother to older child, connecting the group. The mother holds a rosary while carrying a diaper-clad child and tenuously grips the edge of a ladder that leans against the looming steel fence. And just below this ladder, at the bottom left, a medical mask and a newspaper provide temporal specificity to this often repeated, perilous scene.