Susan Harbage Page, Artist , grew up in Charlotte. She’s been making art for a really long time. When she was 10, her mom packed her and her three sisters and took them camping for 3 months in Europe. 23 borders crossed! They were stopped and held at gunpoint in Romania and she’s never been the same since.
What she’s been doing since 2007 is walking, canoeing, etc along the US/Mexico border photographing things people leave behind. “I often ask if I’m safe and […] I’m aware that I can do this because I’m white. The first thing I do when I’m stopped is pull out my UNC ID.” She says. She shares a picture of the Rio Grande at the entrance to our country. “Imagine if this is your manifest destiny.”
“What happens is people take off wet clothes, put on dry clothes, and I photograph the remains. I think about not only about the person who wears these items, but I think of them as relics.” The images she shares on the screen tell heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story. “Is this eyeshadow just eyeshadow or is it a mask?” She asks. “I’m always struck by these items.”
“I’ve been thinking a lot about archives and my other project is creating an anti-archive. We have George Washington’s wooden teeth. Why do we have these? Because he was rich and famous, he was an important dude! So, I’m picking up certain items that are relics of these stories for me and they are not from people who are rich or famous.” She says as she displays the contents of a wallet she found at the US border.
Susan made trophies for running, canoeing and more a few years back. “I realized after that that coming to the US was not the finish line, it’s the beginning of a very uncertain future. There is a great deal of loss at the US/Mexico border.”
Last time, Susan began encircling the objects she finds in blue chalk lines, to put a protective circle and to make these items visible, at the border. “I did this all along the border and it transforms the visual landscape of the border.”
She closes with a video and says; “If you meet someone who may or may not have come North from latin America, I just hope you’ll think about what risks they took to fulfill their dreams.”