Women of Juárez Alive Through Art

Artists from all over the world participated in a London exhibition to honor the slain women of Juárez.

Entitled 400 Women, the exhibition features portraits of 200 women from Juárez who have been murdered or gone missing. Each artist created the portrait after being given basic information about a particular woman.

Mexican artist Andres Basurto was assigned Melissa Gonzalez Luna, who disappeared three years ago at the age of sixteen. With only a small photograph to work from, he decided to bring out her “positive energy” through her eyes and smile. “I wouldn’t consider myself a sentimental artist, but I did sometimes find myself in tears,” Basurto told the BBC.

While some artists had no photographs, other artists had more to work with. However, knowing more details possibly made it even more heart-wrenching. Artist Monica Alcanzar learned the distrubing details behind the death of her assigned woman, 19 year-old  Maria Eugenia Mendoza Arias. “She was dumped in the middle of the garbage. Her skull was actually broken. Someone ran over her in a car after raping her really violently.” She decided to represent Mendoza Arias through a gold pendant. “I crushed the pendant because of that, trying to evoke this combination of something that is fragile, that has been broken, abused, and then suspended for people to see.”

The project was created by British artist Tamsyn Challenger, who traveled to Mexico in 2006 and met with some of the victims’ families. “Just as I was leaving [one mother] on our final meeting, she pushed postcards of her daughter into my hands.” Challenger recalls. “The face looking up at me was such a poverty of an image. It had been reproduced from a snapshot and the face was blurred. I think I just wanted to bring that face back again and that’s really what started 400 Women in my mind.”

While this exhibition was inspired by Ciudad Juárez in particular, where hundreds of women have gone missing or been murdered since the mid 1990s, Challenger wants this to speak for the plight of women worldwide. “The situation in Juárez is an open wound but 1 in 4 women in [the U.K.] and in the US suffer domestic violence and my hope is that this project will raise awareness for gender violence across the globe.”

The exhibition took place during the month of November, but you can view some of the portraits in this slideshow.


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63 comments

Aurolyn L.
Aurolyn L5 years ago

Jennifer, the femicides did not end in the 90s, they are STILL going on. Although it's true they tend to get swamped by the more generalized drug-related violence in Juarez, that claimed over 3000 lives in 2010.

Chavonne Harvey
Chavonne H5 years ago

art can do amazing things.

Jennifer T.
Jennifer T5 years ago

This is awesome! I wish I could do some artwork. This cause hits close to home, since my biological mother was close to that area. When the murders (in the 90's) were going on, it always made my skin crawl. Well done with putting the exhibition together!

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

A powerful way to send out a message about thse atrocities in Mexico! It is intolerable that this situation is allowed to continue without police intervention!!
If only the pictures could portray the good side of Mexican culture and life!!! A country that I love.
Shame on you Mexico for not defending the weak!

Noel C.
Noel C5 years ago

Mahalo

Halonnah Sutton
Halonnah Sutton5 years ago

its about time we live through art

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago

Thanx for post

Heather G.
Heather G5 years ago

this isn't the number one news story because the women are mexican. these are the same women that would be called every bad name, except human, and blamed for every social ill in the US if this was an article about immigration.

kenneth m.
kenneth m6 years ago

They should make it illegal.

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

Sickening and heart wrenching and has been going on for a long time. Now it's being encouraged and exacerbated by the Governor of Arizona and her cohorts. What an ugly world we're creating.