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Artist Makes US-Mexico Border Fence 'Disappear'

October 15, 2015

Artist Ana Teresa Fernandez paints the Sonora border fence blue as part of the "Borrando la Frontera," or "Erasing the Border" art installation in Nogales, Mexico. (Photo credit: Valeria Fernandez, AP)

Nogales, Mexico - The border fence dividing the U.S. and Mexico has long been a subject of debate and controversy. Now, 34-year-old artist Ana Fernández is attempting to paint a stretch of the border fence in Nogales, Sonora so it looks like it is no longer there.

Fernández, who was born in Mexico but raised in San Diego, is leading an effort to paint the border fence so blue that it blends with the sky, rendering it nearly invisible.

She calls the work "Borrando La Frontera" or "Erasing The Border." The artist wants to use her painting as a visual platform of migrant and human rights on an international level.

"This wall has become a symbol of pain, a symbol where we lament the lives who have not been able to cross it," Fernández said. "I just had this epiphany, of like, you know I can bring the sky down and erase it, just using paint and painting it sky blue."

This isn't the first time Fernández has "erased the border." In 2011, Fernandez went to Tijuana from her home in San Francisco, picked a stretch of the fence on the beach on the Mexican side, climbed up a ladder, and began to paint it a carefully chosen shade of blue that made it look like the fence disappeared into the sky and the Pacific Ocean behind it.

Fernandez's new project is some 370 miles east of her original painting, on a stretch of fence in Nogales, Sonora, across from Nogales, Arizona. This time she has asked a group of border residents to help her paint.Fernandez said her goal is to inspire people to imagine what if the fence really did come down.

"What happens if that political and physical divide disintegrates, what does that mean?" Fernandez said. "Do we have to be acknowledged as real humans, as people with personal and intimate stories?"

Susannah Castro, of Border Community Alliance, invited Fernández to take on this project. She said Mexican authorities were made aware of the project and didn't object.

"We're not doing anything illegal. We're an humanitarian organization and we're not gonna shy away from these topics," Castro said.

Sources: KPBS.orgCBS News