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January 24, 2014

Border relations through an artists's eye

Jewelry exhibit at IU Kokomo explores relationship between U.S. and Mexico.

Nicolas Estrada created a unique rosary adorned with a pendant of Satan and tiny, silver guns between the rosary beads.

Jesus was nailed to guns instead of a cross.

The Colombian man left a card next to it with a prayer that read, “If they have eyes, may they not see me. If they have hands, may they not grab me. If they have feet, may they not reach me. Don’t allow them to surprise me from behind. Don’t let my death be violent. Don’t let my blood run.”

The piece is part of Indiana University Kokomo’s latest art exhibit called LaFrontera, a contemporary jewelry show.

Artists from across the world explore the complicated relationship between the United States and Mexico, especially along the border of the two countries.

The show, which is part of a national tour, opened with a reception Wednesday night in the in the university’s art gallery in Upper Alumni Hall. It is free and open to the public.

Cat Bolinger, interim gallery director, said it is interesting to see the perspectives of artists from around the world on the issues surrounding the border.

"It's not just our issue, between the U.S. and Mexico, but something the whole world is thinking about," she said. "It's interesting to see how jewelry can express those thoughts."

Edward McCartney created three brooches designed to look like silver guns. He called it “If Bullets were Jewels.” They were made with reclaimed silver and reclaimed yellow, red and blue gemstones.

McCartney has lived in Texas for more than 30 years. His family moved there from London, England in 1977 when he was 13 years old.

“I have witnessed the change in Texas/Mexico border relations over the years,” he wrote in the description of his jewelry pieces. “With ‘If Bullets were Jewels,’ I was concerned with memorializing lives and events destroyed by and marked with violence through traditional Victorian mourning jewelry.”

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