The Rio Grande Project: Land and Border examines the fifth-longest river in North America. The river rises in the San Juan Mountains, flows through the Rio Grande rift zone, divides Texas from Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas, before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The project documents the human and physical geography of the river, from its headwaters to its delta.
The Rio Grande Project: Land and Border explores the watershed’s natural and urban landscapes. The river is the soul and foundation of the region. It brings continuous change, supports agricultural communities, drives urban development, and both obstructs and sustains refugees. It dams the flow of people seeking asylum. Lives are lost, tent cities emerge, and detention centers are manufactured.
The project has drawn me deeper into the current border crisis. I travel to border cities in the United States and Mexico; El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Brownsville and Matamoros; where I meet asylum seekers, work in tent cities, and witness the emergency. My photographs depict the river’s natural, altered, and human landscapes. I illuminate the experience of the people, highlight their strength and resilience, and emphasize the beauty and harshness of the Rio Grande.
The Rio Grande Project: Land and Border has given me a new perspective on how rivers – specifically boundary rivers – both create and destroy communities, supplying a lifeline of water while drowning hopes for a better life. The project brings meaning, struggle, and recovery to viewers; it draws an emotional response as we engage with the landscape; it leads us to recognize the poignancy of the river’s bond to the lives stolen at the border.
“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.” –Leonardo da Vinci