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Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives /
Fronteras: Dibujando las vidas fronterizas

The Borderlines Exhibit

Steven and Reefka have created the Borderlines traveling exhibit that consists of twenty-five framed 24 x 30 inch portraits of people who live and work along the U.S. / Mexico border and twenty-five poems in English and Spanish featured on 24 x 30 inch text panels. The entire exhibit is available to museums, galleries, libraries, colleges and universities. The mini-exhibit consisting of 8-12 pieces from the larger Borderlines exhibit is available for smaller venues.

You may also want to schedule a Reading and/or Workshop (see Workshops) to accompany the exhibit.

To schedule a Traveling Exhibit contact us at .

We are looking for a permanent home for this exhibit where it will be used as an educational and cultural resource. Please let us know if you are interested or would like to recommend a museum, library, bank, or other institution that would permanently house this work.

To request a PDF file of the entire artwork in this exhibit please contact us at .

The Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives traveling exhibit is currently on display at the UTRGV library – Brownsville Campus on the 3rd floor gallery. For location and hours, please visit their website here.

Sample text panel and framed portrait from Borderlines

Artists’ Statement

UTRGV English professor Dr. Steven Schneider and his artist wife Reefka Schneider describe their compelling testimony to life along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Artists’ Statement

By placing poetry and art side by side we invite you into a world of image and word, figure and figure of speech, a world in which the borders of one medium touch another. In this way our “marriage” of art and poetry reflects the creative synergy of the people who live on both sides of the River—what one side calls Rio Grande and the other side calls Río Bravo.

In a world in which borders continue to be sites of conflict and mistrust, we offer this book and exhibit as a testimony to the people who live and work along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley. You will see in these drawings and poems a reflection of life along the border. It is a story of the human spirit and its quest for happiness and fulfillment, its struggles to survive and overcome economic hardship.

We hope this collection will improve cross-cultural understanding and deepen awareness of the human ties that bind all of us together.

Al colocar la poesía y el arte lado a lado los invitamos a ustedes a un mundo de imagen y palabra, de forma y foma de expresión, a un mundo en donde los limites de un medio alcanzan otro. De esta manera nuestro “matrimonio” entre el arte y la poesía refleja la sinergia creativa de la gente que vive en ambos lados del río, el que un lado llama el Rio Grande y el otro lado llama el Río Bravo.

En un mundo donde las fronteras siguen siendo un lugar de conflicto y desconfianza, ofrecemos esta exposición como testimonio a la gente que vive y trabaja a lo largo de la frontera Mexico – Estados Unidos en el Valle del Rio Grande. Veran en estos dibujos y poemas el reflejo de la vida a lo largo de la frontera. Es una historia de la voluntad del ser humano y de su busqueda por la felicidad y la autorealización, su lucha por sobrevivir y por superar las dificultades económicas.

Esperamos que esta exposición mejore el entendimiento entre las dos culturas y profundice el conocimiento de los lazos humanos que nos unen a todos.

The Borderlines Book

The Borderlines Book

Featuring 25 drawings in charcoal, conte crayons, and pastels, this handsomely designed coffee table book pairs portraits of people who live and work along the U.S.–Mexico border with bilingual poems that have been inspired by each of the drawings. A testimony to the people of the Rio Grande Valley, these drawings and poems capture their spirit, their quest for happiness, and their struggles to overcome economic hardship. Compassionate and socially relevant, this inspiring book raises awareness about social and cultural issues associated with border life, such as education, literacy, and poverty, and fosters cross-cultural understanding.

Critical Praise For Borderlines

These border portraits caught my eye when I first saw them at the University of Texas-Pan American, and they draw me in even now. Ordinary folks rendered with love, compassion, and intimacy at a time in history when love, compassion, and intimacy are in short supply on borders, especially when it comes to the Tex/Mex border. Hurray for Steve and Reefka and the magical work they are doing crossing fronteras. Hurray for Wings Press for publishing this celebratory book when we need it the most. ¡Que vivan!

Sandra Cisneros, MacArthur Fellow
author of Caramelo and The House on Mango Street

Borderlines/Fronteras reflects an accuracy of eye and voice that goes beyond mere physical reality and probes the uncompromised elegance of street vendors, beggars, and the Angel who likes tacos. The poetry carries a grace and a toughness that are equally eloquent in the Spanish translation, and the drawings leave the reader entranced by the exquisite beauty of truth.

Carmen Tafolla
author of The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans and Sonnets & Salsa

Preview of Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives

Six-Year-Old Street Vendor

In her right ear she wears a pink stud.
Her lips are sealed and will not share the secrets
Of her family, the two room house
With dirt floors and no running water.
Her mother makes doilies and tablecloths
Sold at the basilica.
The handbags draped over each wrist
And around her neck
Are stitched by a cousin
Who lives in Matamoros.
They hang from her like ornaments.

She awakens each day, early
To walk the streets of Nuevo Progresso
Where she competes
With other child vendors–of watches, silver bracelets,
CDs of Tejano music.
She is intimate with the alleys of this border town-
Beggars with tin cans, children playing the accordion, stray cats.
She will never learn how to read and write.
She leaves only traces of her footsteps
On the muddy paths beside the Rio Grande.

Vendedora ambulante de seis años

En su oreja derecha trae un arete color de rosa.
Sus labios sellados no compartirán los secretos
De su familia, la casa de dos cuartos
Con piso de tierra y sin drenaje.
Su madre confecciona servilletas y manteles
Que se venden en la basílica.
Los bolsos colgados sobre cada muñeca
Y alrededor de su cuello
Son tejidos por una prima
Que vive en Matamoros.
Cuelgan de ella como adornos.

Despierta temprano cada día
Para caminar por las calles de Progreso
Donde compite
Con otros niños vendedores – de relojes, pulseras de plata,
Discos compactos de música tejana.
Es íntima de los callejones de este pueblo fronterizo –
Pordioseros con botes de lata, niños tocando el acordeón, gatos extraviados.
Nunca aprenderá a leer ni escribir.
Deja sólo rastros de sus pasos
En los caminos lodosos al lado del Río Bravo.

Three-Year-Old Street Musician

You hug the accordion
As if it were your baby brother
And look out at the world
With the sad eyes of a panda bear
Taken from its natural habitat.
You play a song for all the children to hear
Who stand in the rain with a candle in one hand
And a cup in the other hand.
You play for all the lost children
Who have disappeared in wars,
In the crevices of earth,
In floods of the seas.

You play a song
For all the children
Who go hungry,
For all the children
Who sleep at night on dirt floors,
For all the children
Who never saw another butterfly.

Músico callejero de tres años

Abrazas el acordeón
Como si fuese to hermanito
Y alzas tu mirada al mundo
Con los ojos tristes de un oso panda
Cogido de su hábitat natural.
Tocas una canción para que la oigan todos los niños
Parados bajo la lluvia con una vela en una mano
Y una taza en la otra.
Tocas por todos los niños perdidos
Que han desaparecido en las guerras,
En las grietas de la tierra,
En las torrentes de los mares.

Tocas una canción
Por todos los niños
Que pasan hambre,
Por todos los niños
Que pasan la noche sobre piso de tierra,
Por todos los niños
Que jamás vieron otra mariposa.