Gallery+Story: Trans-Border art installation helps Bowie students connect with peers in Juarez

A trans-border light-art installation that hopes to bridge a connection between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez shined brightly over Bowie — a school long known for educating students of all cultural backgrounds.

The Border Tuner installation consists of three interactive searchlights on each side of the border equipped with microphones that allow users to connect and converse live with people across the Rio Grande.

The El Paso component of the temporary art piece is housed on the Bowie campus, and earlier this week students from the South Side school got a first-hand glimpse of it by using it and connecting with high-school students from Juárez.

“I thought it was fun talking with other people across the border,” Bowie student Beatriz Dominguez said. “They were nice.”

The cross-border conversations were captured on loudspeakers so that visitors to the event could hear. Most conversations were simple and exchanges of pleasantries while others involved poetry, music and readings.

“I think it is something amazing to have these interactions with the border,” said Bowie junior Adrian Maldonado, who has spent the past week at the event selling hot chocolate. “I liked that everyone could come and see our campus – maybe they can join or change to our school.”

Bowie students have participated throughout the event – selling hot chocolate, performing and reading poetry and interacting with their high school peers in Juarez. The famous Oso Good food truck also has made appearances during the event.

“It’s such an honor for Bowie High School and its students to be involved with an event that symbolizes our relationship with our sister city,” said Arthur Beck, Bowie student activities manager. “These aerial lights communicating and bringing two nations together, show us how close and relevant our two nations really are. Our campus and students have enjoyed being part of the project and contributing to its success and unity.”

Bowie AP Spanish teacher Hilda Soltero embraced the opportunity the Border Tuner gave her students to collaborate and share poems with their peers in Juarez.

“I want to thank the organization of the Border Tuner,” Soltero said. “This was a fantastic idea after the tragedy at Walmart. You see the lights crossing the border, voices crossing the border and there’s a wall over there trying to divide us but it’s not happening. In our hearts and mind, we are one.”

Border Tuner is free and open to the public. The installation opened on November 13 and will run through Sunday, November 24. For more information on it, visit the Border Tuner website here.

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy  – EPISD