Arts

Atlanta Artist Erects ‘Border Wall’ With Help From Immigrants

Atlanta artist Joseph Guay builty his newest piece with a team of laborers who are all immigrants without legal status in the U.S.
Atlanta artist Joseph Guay builty his newest piece with a team of laborers who are all immigrants without legal status in the U.S.
Credit Courtesy of Joseph Guay

There’s a new wall dominating the view on the corner of 10th Street and Howell Mill Road. It’s not part of a new construction, it’s an art installation by Atlanta artist Joseph Guay. The work takes the idea of the proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and presents one massive 40-foot section of it.

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“What’s the symbol of that?” Guay asks. “Is it about keeping immigrants out? Is it a statement that we’re making our border safer? There are so many different ways of looking at it and what it really stands for.”

Guay built the wall with a team of laborers who are all immigrants without legal status in the U.S. The artist says that once he explained to them what the wall would be, he was met with enthusiasm. One side of the wall features a portrait of Donald Trump. The other side contains a painting of the Mexican flag.

“They were blown away and wanted to do anything possible to make this project happen,” Guay says. “They were glad that someone was finally giving them almost a way of showcasing their hand without showing their face.”

Guay is inviting viewers to not only see the wall but to interact with it in whatever way they see fit.

“You can come and write beautiful words on it, you can come and leave photos of family members you’ve left behind in other countries,” he says, “or you can come destroy it—hit it with a hammer or spray paint it. And that’s going to be beautiful, to sit back and watch the work unfold.”

The hope in allowing the public to have unfettered access to the artwork is to spark discussion of the issues surrounding the actual proposed border wall on the U.S. and Mexican border.

“Maybe there’s someone out there that thinks this wall is a great idea,” Guay says, “and then they’re going to stand at that and look up and think ‘imagine if I was on the other side of this.’ That’s kind of what my art is about, hopefully triggering change without the argument.”