Border issues, motion and rest addressed in new art show |

Border issues, motion and rest addressed in new art show

Summit Daily News
Special to the Daily

Longtime local artist Maria Morley pours herself into her projects.

For “Migration,” a solo show opening in Denver on Friday, Morley interviewed people from both sides of the Mexican-American border, worked with American and Latino students on art projects with the theme of migration, and studied immigration in the news along with other migration topics.

The show, which received funding through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, began two years ago in Mexico ” where Morley remained for a few years after graduate school to teach. There she presented “Sobre Migracion,” a first draft of the show she brings to Colorado’s big city, something she’s wanted to do since the project began.

Her ideas on immigration, “motion and mobility” and “rest and sanctuary” first arose while visiting a butterfly sanctuary in Mexico. At the time she lived in the city, and was thrilled with being outside in the woods. She saw thousands of Monarch butterflies along their migration route from Canada to Mexico, so many that they blended into the trees.

In her teachings to American and Latino kids, Morley talked about the birds and butterflies migrating across borders, and about people crossing borders. She said many of her students in Mexico had relatives that crossed the border to work.

“I’ve spent so much time working on this, that it’s crucial for me to share. I’ve heard so many stories from kids; sad and funny stories.”

The art which resulted from these classes in Mexico and Frisco, along with essays and video interviews, will be featured at the front gallery of The Other Side Arts Gallery during Morley’s exhibit.

The kids’ work leads into the main gallery where her show is “broken down into essentially five parts.” There’s the section with 37 clay birds hanging from above, the approximately 5,000 glass and paper butterfly sanctuary, the border wall with American and Mexican figures on both sides, a section of three trucks representing global economics, and finally, the cantadoras ” clay vessels, representing friends she’s lost.

Although she’s weary of expressing political opinions, she cites several observations which have influenced her work.

Specifically in the global economics aspect of her piece, she said, “It’s interesting how corporations can move freely around the world for profit, but poor people (in Mexico) can’t get a Visa to our country,” she said, noting that the corruption of the Mexican government plays a part, believing people won’t come back to a place where they make $40 a week.

In her cantadoras section, the project’s theme took on a much bigger meaning for Morley.

“If we are migrating toward death, then why this corruption and greed?”

But she emphasizes that the show is “a creative way to initiate conversation.” She was influenced by questions like “Where are we going with this; where do we want the world to unfold?”

She chose the venue for the show partly because it is a nonprofit. “(The show) is bigger than trying to put things out for sale …. This is a special project …

“I feel like this exhibit and project can help build a bridge between cultures.”

Visit to find out what else Maria is up to.

Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626 or

– What: An installation of clay and mixed media by Frisco artist Maria Morley.

– When: Opens with a reception on Friday from 7-11 p.m. Will stay through Jan. 1

– Where: The Other Side Arts Gallery located at 1644 Platte St. LoDo, Denver. (303) 561-3000.

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