‘Tribute’ exhibit memorializes anniversary of Mexican students’ disappearance

Various contributions are displayed in the Birke Art Gallery as part of the “Tribute to the Disappeared” exhibit, which will continue until Oct. 28.
Krislyn Holden | The Parthenon Various contributions are displayed in the Birke Art Gallery as part of the “Tribute to the Disappeared” exhibit, which will continue until Oct. 28.

The “Tribute to the Disappeared” exhibit opened at Marshall University’s Birke Art Gallery Wednesday with an opening reception.

An art workshop and a presentation of the exhibit was also conducted on Wednesday by curator and artist, Andrea Arroyo.

The “Tribute to the Disappeared” was created in 2014 to raise awareness after the disappearance of 43 students from a teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Mexico on Sept. 26, 2014. Since then, the homicides of women in Juarez, Mexico, the kidnapping of almost 300 girls in Baga, Nigeria, and police violence have been other issues added to the exhibit, among others.

“My own personal interest in social justice has been going on for a long time,” Arroyo said. “I am trying to connect all of these issues from around the world and use the universal language of art to create those connections.”

The exhibition will memorialize the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students, as well as the more than 26,000 women and men who have disappeared in Mexico since 2006.

“The idea is that somehow it touches people’s hearts in a way that it changes the dynamics somehow or people are prone to action,” Arroyo said. “The biggest thing to remember is empowerment. The issues are so huge and so complex that many times I think we tend to believe that we can’t do anything on our part.”

Arroyo has accumulated images from over 300 international artists and collectives so far. The project has three components: an online exhibition, including a Facebook page, a series of gallery exhibitions and a series of community workshops.

Participants, ranging from 16 to 89 years old, include established, emerging artists and people who claim not to be artists from the United States, Denmark, Scotland, Bangladesh, India, Argentina and other places around the world. The works are created in different forms, including painting, drawing, collage, embroidery, video, essays, installation, poetry and theater.

Another way people can participate in the exhibit is writing a note. The Birke Art Gallery has a station where markers, paper and paperclips are available to write and hang a note on a section of the exhibit. When the exhibit closes, Arroyo will take the notes from the gallery at Marshall University and the exhibit currently in New York and send them to the parents of the missing students.

The public can also send in a piece they have made to be displayed in the exhibit. After making an art piece, people may send a picture of it to the “Tribute to the Disappeared” Facebook page or send it to [email protected]com.

The exhibit will be displayed at the Birke Art Gallery until Oct. 28. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“My focus is that a college student would see themselves in the students that were taken. So that we value life the same way no matter what it is, no matter the color of our skin, or social class we are. We have to see each other as equals and just see ourselves as somebody else,” Arroyo said.

Krislyn Holden can be contacted at [email protected]