Art exhibits document impact of border walls

The film, "800 Mile Wall," will highlight current exhibits at Vermillion's Washington Street Arts Center, 202 Washington Street, Oct. 14 from 7 to 10 p.m.  On display will be  "Continental Divide:  Borderlands, Wildlife, People and the Wall" (photographs), Nancy Losacker's "Bird Mosaics" and Nancy Carlsen's "Missouri River Maps."  The event is free and open to the public.
 
The photographs by the International League of Conservation Photographers and the 90-minute film directed by John Carlos Frey and produced by Jack Lorenz document the harsh impact of the new border walls along the US-Mexico border on people, wildlife and the landscape of the region. The lands on both sides of the Rio Grande form a diverse ecosystem that is home to many species that exist nowhere else on earth.  Legislation passed in 2005 gave the Department of Homeland Security unprecedented authority to waive laws for the building of the wall.  Since that time, the department has ignored dozens of laws, including the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Noise Control Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Farmland Protection Policy Act, Eagle Protection act and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Hundreds of miles of steel 15 feet high block passage for wildlife along dozens of miles of dry desert landscape, keeping imperiled species from reliable water sources found on one side of the wall.  Since the border walls have been built, over 5,000 bodies of migrant men, women and children have been recovered in deserts, mountains and canals as the wall is forcing them to cross increasingly treacherous terrain in order to search for low paying jobs in the U.S.

Along with the Borderlands art, the "Bird Mosaics" by Nancy Losacker and "Missouri River Maps" by Nancy Carlsen demonstrate the fragile beauty of our own ecosystem and broaden our vision of art, making us more aware of the necessity of migration in the natural cycle of life as well as the destructive impact of impediments to that cycle.

 The Vermillion Area Arts Council, The South Dakota Peace and Justice Center and the Living River and East River Groups of Sierra Club are sponsoring the event.

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