Oberlin- On Campus E Newsletter

Thursday, December 16, 2010 9:11 PM

This section of an interview regarding Peace of Art ran in the Oberlin College, Online E Newsletter.

by Prerna Choudhury ‘12
Nov 1, 2010

How were you able to bring the mayor of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to Oberlin? To be honest, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be! Perhaps because I’m from El Paso, which is directly across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the problems there are incredibly important to me, and I had been thinking of ways to raise awareness and get more people in Oberlin and surrounding communities interested and concerned as well. Last semester, I ran across an article about a presentation Mayor Reyes Ferriz had given at the University of Texas, and it included the contact information for the person responsible for organizing that event. I got in contact with her, and she was gracious enough to give the e-mail address of the mayor’s secretary, who then put me in contact with the mayor. Much to my surprise, he immediately agreed to come to Oberlin, and over the summer I met with him at his office in Ciudad Juarez to discuss the details of the visit. Once I had an official agreement, it was not hard to get support and funding from various academic departments and offices on campus. Probably the most time consuming part of the process was organizing all the details to make sure his visit was a good experience for all involved. However, I had support from many faculty and staff members, and I think we were able to make his September 20 visit a great success.

Tell me about the Peace of Art Exhibit and your part in it. Peace of Art is an exhibition organized by Sandra Salas, an incredible graphic designer and community activist originally from Ciudad Juarez. We brought it to Oberlin in conjunction with Mayor Reyes Ferriz’s visit. This past summer, Ms. Salas called for submissions from artists across the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez area that protested violence or called for peace. She received more than 90 posters, and the exhibition is becoming nationally and internationally recognized. The only thing I can take credit for is bringing Peace of Art to Oberlin. Everything else is the work of Sandra Salas and the artists who contributed to the project.

Why were you interested specifically in bringing the Peace of Art exhibit to Oberlin? After we had started to plan the event with Mayor Reyes Ferriz, I saw an advertisement for Peace of Art when I was in El Paso this summer. Although I was not in town to see its premiere, I got in contact with Ms. Salas, and she showed me several of the posters in the exhibition. I was fascinated, and immediately knew I had to involve Peace of Art with Mr. Reyes Ferriz’s event. I felt that having this exhibition at Oberlin would help to draw more attention to Ciudad Juarez. Having the mayor and the exhibition here at the same time would generate even greater interest, and the events would serve as great complements to each other.

Do you plan to help organize more events along these lines? Absolutely! The issues of the drug war in Mexico, and specifically in Ciudad Juarez, are incredibly important, and there are many more ways to raise awareness and involve people in the Oberlin community. There are no definite plans as of now, but some of my ideas include bringing Mr. Reyes Ferriz (who just finished his term as mayor and is now working for the International Development Bank in Washington D.C.) back to Oberlin, organizing a winter-term project in which students would travel to Ciudad Juarez to learn about the situation first hand, and bringing the second Peace of Art exhibition to Oberlin.

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