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Teresita de la Torre, antes muerta que sencilla (image courtesy the artist)

Debates around the current tragic situation on the US-Mexico border are often dominated by statistics: How many migrants are crossing daily, monthly, annually? How many are detained in inhumane conditions? How many children are needlessly separated from their families? While these numbers are certainly crucial to understanding the complexity of this morass, they overlook the accounts of individuals, who all have different stories and reasons for making the perilous journey.

When artist Teresita de la Torre’s mother crossed the border 40 years ago, she did so in red heels. She knew full well that these were not the most sensible shoes for the arduous passage, but wanted to look guapa — “attractive” — for de la Torre’s father who waited for her on the other side. The artist recently asked her mother to describe the shoes, which she still remembered in great detail, and used that description to make several replicas, first out of papier-mâché and later in collaboration with a Salvadoran cobbler in Pico Union. De la Torre would wear these shoes in several border-crossing performances — from Tijuana to El Paso to Laredo — which form the basis for her current solo exhibition antes muerta que sencilla (roughly translated to “I’d rather be dead than simple”) at Grand Central Art Center. In conjunction with the exhibition, de la Torre will be speaking about the work and its connection to family, struggle, and personal narrative this Saturday.

When: Saturday, July 6, 6–7pm
Where: Grand Central Art Center (125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, California)

More info at Grand Central Art Center.

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Matt Stromberg

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he is a frequent contributor to Daily Serving, and Glasstire.