Borderlands-Evidence from the Rio Grande

Border Wall photo

Border Wall, Progreso TX 2012

Now until July 28 in the Randy and Susan Woodson Gallery

Borderlands” is Susan Harbage Page’s testimony and a commemoration of the courage, fear, hope and determination that continues to drive countless people to risk everything in search of a better life.

For more than a decade, she has traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border near Brownsville, Texas, to record the journeys of immigrants entering the United States. By collecting images with her camera and gathering found objects at the scene, she has created what she calls an “Anti-Archive” that documents this still-unfolding event. She comments, “In 2007 I heard an NPR story which stated that 20 percent more women and children died than men when crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. I couldn’t get that figure out of my head. I wanted to know why. I wanted to see for myself what was happening on our southern border. I self-funded a trip to the border in Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico. I had worked previously in the area in 1996 photographing impromptu shrines to the Virgin of Guadalupe. On that journey I crossed the border for the first time in Los Ebanos, Texas where the last hand-operated cable ferry floats you across the border.”

Argyle sock“Since then, I have been making yearly trips/pilgrimages to walk the border and photograph the objects and traces left behind in the landscape by migrants and refugees crossing the U.S-Mexico border in southeast Texas. I photograph the depersonalized objects abandoned as waste by border crossers, military personal, and drug cartel members. These objects have accumulated over time and become a new way to look at the militarization of the border and the ways in which the power of nations plays out in this space. In the end, these objects represent the fact that some people have access and others don’t.”

 

Yellow TooothbrushSusan Harbage Page has exhibited nationally and internationally at major museums and public institutions in Bulgaria, France, Italy, Germany, Israel, England, the United States, and China. Her work has been collected by nationally recognized museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Amongst Page’s awards are fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Camargo Foundation, and the Institute for Arts and Humanities, UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation and the Fulbright Program. She was awarded second prize in the Bernice Abbott International Competition for Women in Documentary Photography.

Her work includes six monographs published by museums concurrently with exhibitions:

Susan Harbage Page: Lo Strappo della Storia, Conversazione con Merletti/History’s Pull, Conversations with Lace (2013), Casa Della Memoria e Della Storia (A Roma Capitale Museum), Rome, Italy; Lingering Portraits, Gettysburg College Pennsylvania, (2008); Postcards from Home, Sumter County Gallery of Art (2007), South Carolina; Involuntary Memories: Blanden Memorial Museum of Art (2006), Fort Dodge, Iowa; The Ties That Bind: Greenville County Museum of Art and the Emrys Foundation (2003), Greenville, South Carolina; and Standing Still, ATA Center for Contemporary Art (2001), Sofia Bulgaria.

Susan Harbage Page is an Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she has received the Carolina Women’s Center Faculty Scholar Award (2014), a fellowship from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities (2015) and an Academic Excellence Award from the Institute for Arts and Humanities (2016). She received her B.M. and M.M. (saxophone performance) from Michigan State University and an M.F.A. (photography) from the San Francisco Art Institute as well as a Certificate of Knowledge of the Italian Language from the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy.

Read about Susan Harbage Page on the Matrons and Mistresses blog.