Atlanta gets a ‘Border Wall’ in Midtown

Joseph Guay pictured in front of “The Border Wall.” Image courtesy of Joseph Guay.

Atlanta is getting its very own border wall courtesy of artist Joseph Guay.

The Border Wall is a public art installation inspired by the $21 Billion wall for the US/Mexico border proposed by President Donald Trump.

Related: Five Georgia companies signal interest in Trump’s border wall project

Guay’s wall is 40 feet by 16 feet of steel, rebar and concrete that was constructed by one dozen undocumented Mexican labor workers. It will be erected next week in an undisclosed location in Midtown. The wall which features an American flag and Mexican flag on either side will be officially unveiled June 14, national Flag Day.

While he has strong feelings about Trump’s proposed wall, Guy said he is taking a neutral position on immigration in order to allow his art to stand on its own.

“The purpose of this installation is to create social awareness of the issues surrounding immigration in the United States,” said Guay on his website.

But that hasn’t stopped the criticism from flowing. Guay said he has been attacked personally for the project.

“I knew people would get upset, but I had one person say ‘It figures the rich, white, privileged guy from a wealthy family would do this.'” Since I was 15, I have been financially taking care of my family, so that one really bothered me,” said Guay by phone.

Another individual has threatened to report him to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for employing undocumented workers, he said.

His goal was to create something that serves as a tribute to Trump on one side and a tribute to Mexico on the other side. “I have yet to tell anyone that I am for or against it, so when they are attacking it, how do you know what side I’m on?” he said.

Guay wants people to leave their comments on the wall, graffiti style, instead of trolling him online. “I think it is important to do stuff like this to draw that out of people. I say put it on the wall,” he said.

His crew of workers have created the steel structure and another group will pour the concrete, all in an effort to create a moveable object that can be pieced together as an art installation rather than attached to the ground, which would require permits from the city.

The workers are aware that they could be at risk, but they felt it was important to be part of the effort.

“They know they are risking themselves to do this and I am purposely putting this on the radar. It is hard for them and it is hard for me, but they know it needs to be said,” Guay said.

The workers, he said, want Americans to know they are here to help the country and build and work on behalf of all people.

“Very few are doing it for themselves. Most of them are here to provide and give to their children a better life and that is honorable,” said Guay.

Reader Comments 0

5 comments
Willow Lee
Willow Lee

I'm not sorry that Guay's feelings are hurt by critics stating the obvious: This is yet another story of a wealthy white guy exploiting the labor of those who are most impacted by racist border imperialism and claiming their work as his "art". This perpetuates a common white entitlement to the labor of people of color for profit by white folks. Whether Guay is making or spending money on this project is beside the point. Guay is claiming their work as his own--this does nothing to disrupt the harm of white supremacy that the focus of this project is ultimately tied to. If Guay is invested in making a stand against state violence (ICE, the US-Mexico border, detention) this situation might look differently but he is assuming a "neutral" position in his artist statement to invite a "conversation" about the proposed border. We don't need a conversation about this--we need to ACT on the behalf of those who are targeted and harmed by the racist immigration policies of the U.S. The appropriate response to this criticism would be to step back and reimagine this project in ways that center those who are most impacted by borders and by U.S. imperialism. 

OdessaHooker
OdessaHooker

It's very creative of these artists to illustrate their opinions of government in a non-violent way. Congratulations!

Robert1959
Robert1959

The good news is the people (racist bigots) who oppose this Wall will be exposed.  Nobody will attempt to destroy this piece of art.

Robert1959
Robert1959

@USMC2841 Hello my friend.  I hope you had a happy and safe Memorial Day holiday.  I rode my Harley in the parade in Washington, D.C.  It has been over 20 years since I last rode in the "rolling thunder".  I am glad we can agree to disagree.