“More Than a Wall” Exhibit Portrays Hardships of Excruciating Labor Conditions at the Mexican – U.S. Border

By Beth Lederer

bethlyn2020@gmail.com

 

The San Francisco Public Library is presenting the exhibit More Than a Wall: Border Communities and Their Social Justice Movements, with photography by David Bacon.

Juan Gonzales, Chair of the Journalism Department, was part of a team of panelists on opening day on Feb. 12. The exhibit runs from Feb. 12 to May 22 at the Main San Francisco Public Library, in the Jewett Gallery on the Lower Level. The exhibit has seven different sections: North of the Wall, Detained and Deported, Communities Resistance, The Border Wall, Miners and Maquilas Workers, Workers’ Reality and Indigenous Farm Workers.

The bilingual photography exhibition More Than A Wall by David Bacon explores aspects of the boarder region .
San Francisco, California. February 12, 2022. (Janna Velasquez/The Guardsman)

 

I was moved by the workers’ resilience. The photographs were thought- provoking and made me really feel for our neighbors South of the Border. Some pictures showed the poverty they experience on a daily basis and their horrendous living conditions. The photographs demonstrate just how hard Mexicans and other Latin Americans work. Two pictures which portray the years of hard work are a picture of an old lady’s wrinkles in her face and another  enlarged picture of wrinkled hands. Other pictures conveyed a little bit of hope of workers learning how to strike, form or join their own union, or ask for higher wages. All these pictures showed years of hard work, though I didn’t see many pictures which showed the hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow.

The photography exhibition More Than A Wall by David Bacon is being displayed at the San Francisco Public Library until May.
San Francisco, California. February 12, 2022. (Janna Velasquez/The Guardsman)

 

The pictures captivated the authenticity of the workers’ lives. The pictures did not sugarcoat the hardships of their living situations and there was nothing pretty or beautiful that was captured in the picture. The picture which saddened me the most was of a young girl whose mother was detained and then her mother was transferred far away. The picture portrayed the raw emotions of a girl whose heart is broken because she doesn’t know when she will see her mom again.

Juan Fuentes speaking at the panel discussion at the opening event for the exhibition The Media, Art and the Border with photographer David Bacon, Juan Gonzales, Kim Komenich, and Brooke Anderson.
San Francisco, California. February 12, 2022. (Janna Velasquez/The Guardsman)
Juan Fuentes shares some of his work at the panel discussion at the opening event for the exhibition The Media, Art and the Border with photographer David Bacon, Juan Gonzales, Kim Komenich, and Brooke Anderson.
San Francisco, California. February 12, 2022. (Janna Velasquez/The Guardsman)
The panel discussion The Media, Art and the Border, with photographer David Bacon, Juan Gonzales, Kim Komenich, Juan Fuentes, and Brooke Anderson was held at the Koret Auditorium.
San Francisco, California. February 12, 2022. (Janna Velasquez/The Guardsman)

 

Each picture had a caption that you could read in English or Spanish. That was helpful to get a broader feel and understanding of the photographs and the obstacles these workers are still facing at the border.  It was most rewarding to see some workers learning to form unions, become social activists and fight for workers rights.

Juan Gonzales answers questions with Juan Fuentes at the panel discussion The Media, Art and the Border.
San Francisco, California. February 12, 2022. (Janna Velasquez/The Guardsman)

 

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