Is it time for the Border Crossing statue to emigrate to a new location?

Arthur Danto, American art critic and philosopher, argues that in order for a piece of work to be considered art it must satisfy the following criteria: it has to have a subject that projects an attitude or point of view that engages an audience’s participation into filling in what is missing within the art. The work in question also requires an art historical context.

“Border Crossing,” the massive sculpture in the center of the main campus, does not fulfill all of these criteria and should be removed.

“Border Crossing” is a familiar image between the MS building and the Sombrilla. The statue of a Mexican migrant family traveling across the Rio Grande into the United States has stood in the central plaza since 1996. It was erected during UTSA’s art commission project to bring art to the campus under former President Samuel Kirkpatrick.

The piece has been controversial since its erection, even provoking the College Republicans into bringing a resolution to the Student Government Association in 2006 to remove the statue as a part of the university’s beautification.

But does the statue meet Danto’s criteria? Yes, but only in part. The piece has a subject and a point of view.

Artist Luis Jimenez created “Border Crossing” and dedicated the piece to his father who crossed the Rio Grande into the United States in 1922. It represents the struggle for a better life, no matter what form it takes. The statue has a subject.

But “Border Crossing” misses the mark in its inability to engage an audience. The figures are not aesthetically pleasing and blend into the surrounding buildings. In the past, it might have been a site for protests, but now it is a little more than an obstruction in the walkway. UTSA has outgrown “Border Crossing.” None of the other criteria matter if the statue has become invisible.

“Border Crossing” has outlived its usefulness. It should be replaced with more engaging public art.