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Mesa Arts Center receives $60K to support art reflecting on border deaths

(Cannupa Hanska Luger Photo)

PHOENIX — The Mesa Arts Center announced Wednesday it is receiving a $60,000 federal grant to support an exhibit that focuses on deaths at the U.S-Mexico border.

The National Endowment for the Arts grant will go toward the future “Passage” exhibit in the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, which is located within the arts center at Main and Center streets.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with a national treasure like [New Mexico-based artist Cannupa Hanska Luger], and thanks to the NEA, we are able to host this ambitious, dynamic installation,” Tiffany Fairall, the museum’s chief curator said in a press release.

“Cannupa and his team of talented artists bring another perspective to the border conversation that gets lost amongst the political noise.”

The exhibit will include the “Something to Hold Onto” installation of more than 7,200 clay beads, each representing a life lost at the border in the past 30 years.

The beads, created at community workshops, aim to “rehumanize abstract data,” according to the release.

Luger has asked people to create their own beads and send them to the museum to add them to the exhibit, since the exact number of deaths at the border is unknown.

After the exhibit ends, the beads will be taken to the Tohono O’odham reservation about 60 miles west of Tucson and “given back to the earth,” the release stated.

Other parts of “Passage” will include a large-scale floor mural and a pop-up education experience.

The exhibit will open May 8 and be on display until Aug. 2. Admission to the museum is free.

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