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Teen Council experiences Border Cantos, prepares for Teen Convening

Artist Guillermo Galindo (right) talks with members of Crystal Bridges' Teen Council in the Border Cantos exhibition.

Members of Crystal Bridges’ Teen Council are convening this weekend with representatives of other museums’ teen programs in a Teen Convening, an independently organized event affiliated with the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) , part of the ICA’s annual Teen Convening. This is an opportunity for teens involved with other museums to share information about teen programs in our region and participate in intergenerational dialogue about youth and arts education. 


Delegates from the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma; The Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas will attend the event, along with adult educators from their museums.  Teens and educators will participate in artmaking, roundtable discussions, and our Teen Night event on Saturday evening. In addition, each pair of teen delegates will give a presentation about teen programs at their institution during a public forum event on Saturday, April 1, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The public is invited to attend the teen presentations, as well as panel discussion from 1:30 to 23:30 p.m. at Crystal Bridges.  Come join us and learn more about the remarkable work teens are doing with museums across the region!  


One of the things members of Crystal Bridges Teen Council do is meet for special programming with visiting artists. In February, the group met with Guillermo Galindo, the Mexican-American artist and composer whose music and hand-made instruments are featured in the current exhibition Border Cantos: Sight and Sound Installations from the Mexican American Border.  


Teen Council members Anna Guyton and Alex Cantey prepared this impression of the experience: 



There you stand, overwhelmed with unfamiliar sights and sounds. After a thought-provoking stroll through the exhibit, you end up here–looking at foreign objects and hearing the sound of their spirits colliding and contrasting. You close your eyes and feel it  wash over you. You are completely immersed in the artist’s world; one of unconventional sound and aesthetic alike. As your mind begins to drift, you wonder if the baby crying in his mother’s arms or the women talking in the corner are part of the overall composition. Maybe they are, for after all, “what is music?”


In Crystal Bridge’s current exhibition, Border Cantos, artists Guillermo Galindo and Richard Misrach explore the Mexican-American border, and what it takes to cross it. This powerful and cohesive exhibition is primarily made of photographs from the border and instruments made of found materials. In our Gallery Talk with Guillermo, he took us to some of his favorite pieces. He talked about how interesting it was to work with “junk” that was a part of someone’s story and giving it a new story. It was a beautiful thought about the things we all carry and the things we leave behind.


For Guillermo, making these instruments and pieces was a way of healing himself. He was fascinated with this idea of putting visual and auditory art together. Before stepping into the back room of the gallery, where the music from some of the instruments is playing, you can feel this sense of emotion. It was a mixture of pity and helplessness–but also awe. The first piece that really draws one’s eye is Exterminating Angel a giant, bent piece of the actual border wall hanging down from its own personal gallows. The sheer size of it and idea of it (as it is fairly easy to tell the piece of the wall is meant to represent wings) inspires awe and wonderment; but then other pieces, such as the ladders, give off an emotion of pity and sadness. Guillermo draws on this idea that the context of pieces matter and adds to the work. For the Servants and Ladders  instrument, he included a carton that read, “Thank God. God Bless”. That water carton saved someone’s life. Just those two pieces underscored the point that many of these people running to the border die.


Next to Exterminating Angel, Guillermo’s favorite piece is Braille Forensic Code. This piece uses data from real forensics reports of bodies found in the borderlands. Guillermo is again using his work to put a spotlight on death at the border. He enjoys making graphic-art music scores, as he has in interested in how his work will be interpreted in the future, and he wanted to translate the notion of people being reduced to nothing but mere dots as a comment on how politicians may view the statistics.


Artist Guillermo Galindo demonstrates how is sound sculpture Exterminating Angel for members of the Crystal Bridges Teen Council in the Border Cantos exhibition.


But, it must be said that the most interesting part of our tour was the back part of the gallery. Before we entered, Guillermo instructed everyone to not talk–just listen. Find a spot, and listen. He informed us that the music is a five-hour piece that plays on–doesn’t stop. With this composition, Guillermo plays with memory and time. And he challenged us to try to hear the differences of the sound based on what instrument we were closer to or farther away from.
Below is an account from Alex Cantey, as she went through the room:

Right when we walked in, the music sped up–making everyone move around faster and it made me feel more uneasy.  As I  drew closer to the Shell Piñata, the piece sounded like more of a horse galloping, but as I traveled to the other side, by the Hues Cordio, the sound dulled out. It’s fascinating to listen and then see where Guillermo made marks

to play the instruments. Teclado is interesting because it sounds similar to a pinball machine.


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