Continuing through November 2, 2019
Thirty years of traveling between Mexico and the U.S. form the backdrop for Emily Matyas’ exhibition, which reflects the photographer’s intimate relationship with the landscapes of everyday life in a part of the world viewed too often through a distorted lens. “The story of my travels in Mexico is a love story,” Emily Matyas writes of the exhibit. Matyas calls it “an ardent love for a country not my own and a people not related to me.” She spent decades walking amid the borderlands with camera in hand, experiencing real people and places even as political rhetoric aimed at painting false portraits escalated. Through Matyas’ eyes we see the richness of life along the border, captured in greys that convey both elegant simplicity and profound complexity. Her portraits reveal the specificity of time and place, while alluding to the shared humanity of those she’s encountered along the way.
One photograph, “Love at the Wall,” depicts a young woman holding a blue hat and standing with her face against a portion of the border wall that’s been marked with a giant heart. A trio of images printed on side-by-side mesh panels are suspended from the ceiling. They’re a quiet yet effective reminder that life along the border is porous, and the ways those who live or work near the wall are always mindful that there is another side, another person, another perspective. Several of her pigmented inkjet prints are portraits of people undertaking mundane tasks, elevated through lighting and perspective to inspire a sense of reverence. Several text panels illuminate the subject matter through brief stories about the people she’s photographed or the ways her own biography intersects with the body of work. In one gallery the most prominent image, “Divided Ocean,” prompts us to consider the futility of attempts to bifurcate this place. On one side lies a promenade lined with palm trees. On the other, the wall. Between them lies a path to the ocean, symbolic of the unity poignantly conveyed by these works.