U.S. exhibition delves into murders of Mexican women

Mon May 17, 2010 7:16pm EDT
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By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - In the middle of a West Philadelphia art gallery, a sculpture of a naked woman lies on a low plinth.

The three-foot-long figure by Philadelphia artist Arlene Love is missing its right arm and leg and has a huge gash running the length of its leather-covered torso, along the side of its throat and ending near the right ear.

The gruesome effigy entitled Beverly is part of an exhibit that epitomizes the violence done to women in Juarez, Mexico, where at least 700 women have been murdered since the 1990s in a wave of often sexual violence that is highlighted by the Philadelphia show.

Ni Una Mas or "Not One More", in the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University, uses painting, sculpture, photography and other media to draw attention to the savage killings of hundreds of women in the U.S.-Mexico border city that is better known to the outside world for its drug-related violence.

"The aim is to encourage others to action and to open their eyes, and their minds and their hearts to this poignant situation in Juarez," said Abbie Dean, a co-curator of the exhibit that runs until July 16.

Works in the exhibit include "Heal", by Yoko Ono. It consists of a 20-foot-wide plain canvas sheet covered with gashes and rips. Viewers are invited to repair the fabric with needle and thread on an adjacent table, in a gesture intended to symbolize the need for healing after many years of violence.

On a pink-painted wall nearby, hundreds of embroidered name tapes commemorate the victims. The tapes have been made by some 1,900 volunteers in 27 countries. The meticulous nature of embroidery represents the care shown by the volunteers toward the dead women, said the Norwegian artist Lise Linnert.

In the center of the exhibition floor there is a translucent banner in which an image of a police badge is superimposed on many reports of the murders, an image designed to show official inaction or even complicity with the killings, the organizers say.   Continued...

<p>An art work by Arlene Love is seen during an art exhibition which delves into the murders of women near the U.S.-Mexico border. REUTERS/Drexel University/Zeek Weil/Handout</p>