Borderland Collective

A long-term participatory art and education project based in Texas


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Borderland Collective is a long-term participatory art and education project based in Texas. The project utilizes collaborations between artists, educators, youth, and community members to engage complex social issues and build space for diverse perspectives, meaningful dialogue, and varying modes of creation and reflection. 

Exhibitions have been held at such venues as Artpace in San Antonio, Krannert Museum at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, University of Arizona Museum of Art, on public buildings throughout Marfa, Texas, and storefront windows in Miles, Texas. We are currently working on a project with staff and students at the University of Washington in Seattle who come from migrant farmworker backgrounds. The project will open at the Washington State History Museum in 2022.


Who We Are

Borderland Collective was co-founded by artist Jason Reed and educator Ryan Sprott in 2007. Our first project was a practice in collaboration with twelve of Ryan’s high school students in the small oil town of Big Lake, Texas, exploring how a place could be lyrically mapped through the diverse perspectives of its youth. The decision to work with the students in such a way was rooted in a desire to use participatory education and art practices to upset the privileged and singular myths of the West that Jason and Ryan inherited growing up in West Texas. By the radical nature of its mere existence, the Big Lake project worked to disrupt traditional stories about whose voices mattered in the small town and in doing so set the groundwork for an art and education practice that is socially relevant and place-based.

Each project since this beginning has had varying project leads including artist Mark Menjivar, artist and designer Molly Sherman, student and educator Daniela Hernandez, art historian Erina Duganne, and artist Joey Fauerso, in addition to Ryan, who focuses on the classroom-oriented projects and Jason, who serves as a lead facilitator of all of the collective’s work. This is a fluid and dynamic group that is constantly shifting and evolving in response to the collective’s projects in classrooms, community spaces, and art institutions.

But more than any lead artists or educators, it is the hundreds of participants throughout the years that have driven our work and made the most generative contributions. This includes the many young people who have shared their voice through photographs, maps, drawings, and words and community partners including RAICES, the Blackwell School, the South Texas Human Rights Center, Operation Identification, and the Migrant Education Network. Ultimately, the collective in Borderland Collective references a mindset rather than a defined group of members, allowing for ever-evolving modes of practice and perspective.

Ideals

Learn Together. We start each project by assuming the role of a co-learner. We work to break down hierarchies by valuing each other’s life experiences and cultural wealth. It is through such a process that we can learn together as a community.


Dialogue Over Debate.  Instead of promoting debate, which presupposes and winner and a loser, we have always preferenced dialogue within our projects. This approach has helped collaborators and participants develop capacities to listen well, engage in civil discourse, and harmonize diverse perspectives. Dialogue has the ability to liberate one from debate’s binary framework, thus opening pathways for creative collaboration.

Create New KnowledgeThroughout our work, we have always placed an emphasis on building an archive of objects, photographs, writing, maps, and drawings – material, tangible things that represent diverse viewpoints and provide avenues for participants to create new streams of collective knowledge. This is often realized through exhibitions and printed matter like risograph-printed manifestos or newspapers that find their home in the margins of art, education, history, and journalism. 




Border-land students meeting with immigration lawyers

Border-land project students meeting with immigration lawyers





























Teacher workshop in conjunction with One to Another exhibition at Artpace