image from common borders

Yolande Andrade, Eniac Martinez, and Todd Bigelow — the artists in Common Borders: Casa Blanca, Riverside, and La Frontera — create portraits of the layered communities that make up the region known as la frontera or the border. These images refute the representation of the U.S./ Mexico border as a set of overwhelming statistics showing instead how the border impacts the everyday lives of individuals.

Yolande Andrade and Eniac Martinez are both established art photographers living in Mexico City. They created the bodies of work shown in Common Borders in 1992 as special commissions for UCR/California Museum of Photography, which now houses the photographs in its permanent collections. The work of Andrade and Martinez was exhibited at UCR/CMP as part of the show Between Worlds: Contemporary Mexican Photography. These commissions were originally sponsored by a grant from UC Mexus.

Andrade who is known for her humanitarian approach to street photography traditionally focuses on subjects in her native Mexico. Here she captures a portrait of Riverside’s predominantly Hispanic Casa Blanca neighborhood focusing on residents continuing traditions and ways they have transformed their community both fitting in with it and making it their own.

Martinez documents a group of Mixteco Indians who migrated to the United States from their home state of Oaxaca in search of work. Mixtecos provide much of the labor force used to build the fastest growing housing market in the U.S. For many Mixtecos, Spanish is a foreign language and thus they find themselves in between U.S. and Mexican cultures -- English and Spanish -- trying to survive and maintain their indigenous cultural identity. Martinez won a Fullbright award in 1989 for his work on the Mixteco Indians. In this series Martinez photographs in Mexico, Riverside and the Inland Empire.

Todd Bigelow is an internationally published editorial photojournalist. He began photographing the U.S./Mexico border out of personal interest. In the last ten years he has developed deep relationships with people on both sides of the border. As immigration policies have gone into effect Bigelow has documented the transformation of border communities from many perspectives. Common Borders features works from his series documenting migrant shelters along the Mexican side of the border, migrant camps in the hills of San Diego, and vigilante ranchers along the U.S. side of the border. In each case Bigelow seeks to capture the intense psychological as well as social and literal effects of border policies.

Andrade captures the community of a local neighborhood, Martinez pictures the community formed by a cultural bond, and Bigelow photographs the communities that have arisen in relation to Border policies and politics. These communities overlap, interact, and together form the dynamic culture that is the border region.

(Above image copyright Todd Bigelow and AURORA Photographs.)