Cuando el Río Suena
On view October 4, 2019—january 26, 2020
Award winning artist and sculptor Jaime Guerrero offers a unique look into the refugee crisis in the United States with his solo exhibition titled "Cuando el Río Suena."
The title of the exhibition, "Cuando el Río Suena" ("When the River Sounds"), is from a South American proverb: Cuando el río suena es porque agua lleva ("When the river sounds it is because it carries water"). It relates to the danger in the journey of migrants crossing the U.S. border.
Guerrero uses this new body of work, created during a nine-month residency at PGC, supported in part by The Pittsburgh Foundation and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, to shed light on everything from border crossings and child/family separation to detainment camps and subsequent fatalities. The exhibition explores the fragility of life as it relates to the current U.S. border crisis, with its influx of refugees and asylum seekers being met with fear, separation, and often times a much harsher reality than they could have imagined.
The exhibit opens with a life-sized blown glass little girl (similar to the image shown), who represents the two year old child from Honduras whose audio went viral as she was being separated from her mother upon crossing the U.S. border. The sculpture, along with the image and audio of this particular little girl’s experience, humanizes these children, whom most of us only see as a blurb on the news. Along with this child, several other life-sized blown glass children are displayed throughout the gallery to represent different border experiences, such as that of just crossing to the other side, separation, and detainment.
Guerrero also created a series of angels to represent the children that have passed away under border patrol custody/detainment. To see glass children alongside angels, to expose the living and dead in this border struggle opens up a visual paradox that is usually not seen. These children become real and can be felt and understood in a different light, on different terms.
Jaime Guerrero was born in 1974 in Los Angeles, California. He is recognized for his versatility in crafting unique glass sculptures. He began his career at California College of Arts and Crafts in 1994. Although Guerrero mostly focuses on glass sculpture, he considers himself a mix media artist.
“I love working with glass because it is a medium that has virtually been untouched by the mainstream art world. I like to push the limits of what can be accomplished in glass but will also use other materials to make my point more poignant,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero has studied with Masters Checco Ongaro, Pino Signoretto, and Ben Moore. He attended Pilchuck School of Glass and was nominated for the Corning Award. He was a featured artist in the Mastercraft show at Gumps in San Francisco for five consecutive years. He received two Saxe Fellowship Awards (2006/2012) and the People's Choice Award (2012) from the Bay Area Glass Institute for his work "Charros y Sus Caballos." This work was later purchased by the Oakland Museum of California for its permanent collection. Guerrero has been featured in several major publications, most recently his work was on the cover of "Craft in America." In 2018 Jaime received a grant with The Pittsburgh Foundation, and this upcoming solo exhibition is the fruition of the grant and a nine month residency with the Pittsburgh Glass Center.
“My work embraces the notion that art can influence social change. It is important to bring awareness to the moral inequities that exist in society today,” Guerrero said.
Selected items from the archive of El Sueño Americano/The American Dream
The most expansive selection of migrants' personal belongings confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a processing facility recovered by photographer Tom Kiefer will also be on display.
When migrants are apprehended inside the U.S and taken to a U.S. Border and Customs Protection processing facilities, agents confiscate items they carry with them. Tom Kiefer worked as a janitor at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Southern Arizona from July 2003 through August 2014. In 2007, greatly disturbed by all the canned food the migrants and asylum seekers carried with them crossing the desert being thrown away, he asked and was given permission to collect the food and bring to the local pantry. It was when retrieving the food, to his shock and disbelief he started seeing what was also being thrown away, deeply personal items such as bibles, rosaries, extra shoes, belts and family photos. El Sueño Americano / The American Dream is an ongoing project photographing and documenting the items that were carried by migrants and those seeking asylum: toothbrushes, toys, blankets, a bracelet or necklace, combs, brushes, cologne, items that represented their hopes and their dreams.
This is the first time a large number of items from the collection will be on display rather than shown in photographs.