Morgana Wallace Cooper

Morgana Wallace Cooper

 

 

 

Artist Statement

               

“Backpack-Mochila” is an interactive piece intended to allow viewers an access point from which to dialogue indirectly with those who are identified as migrants. The backpack was found in the Sonoran Desert within feet of a resident’s home and is in itself an aesthetic object. By placing the backpack in the context of a gallery space and surrounding it with white walls and around other art objects, it becomes a work of art. Its manufacturing from local materials becomes more than solely functional, but also highly regarded for craftsmanship and ingenuity. In its new context viewers deepen their understanding of how near migration in the borderlands is to our homes and how personal the journey is. By witnessing through photography the backpack’s found location, its original contents, and the hiker who discovered it, viewers have an opportunity to acknowledge just how local and live migration is in the Sonoran Desert.

Viewers are invited to write a letter to the owner of the backpack. Letters will be translated into Spanish and placed (along with additional items viewers may feel led to include) inside a replica of the original backpack. The original backpack will be returned to the individual who found it in the desert, and the replica will be placed in the exact location where the original was found, as an offering to the next migrant. This engagement component is used as way to get viewers to take the next step with the piece and not just admire or observe it, but to consider who made it, why it was made, and why it was needed….to make the object and its purpose more human. Few residents of the towns within and surrounding the Sonoran Desert put themselves in scenarios that would allow for a direct and forthcoming exchange with those individuals and families crossing the border. This artwork would bring the opportunity to them. My motivation with this piece is to encourage people in the Ajo community and those who attend the Symposium to really consider WHO crosses the desert and to connect with them.

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