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The University of Texas at Austin


David Taylor's Photos of Historic Border Monuments Donated to Briscoe Center

September 19, 2012

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David Taylor Border Monument No. 221, 2007-2010. Courtesy of the James Kelly Contemporary Gallery.David Taylor Border Monument
No. 221, 2007-2010.
David Taylor Border Monument No. 204, 2007-2010. Courtesy of the James Kelly Contemporary Gallery.David Taylor Border Monument
No. 204, 2007-2010

Austin, Texas – The Briscoe Center has received four photos by acclaimed photographer David Taylor, a gift of Michael and Jeanne Klein of Austin, Texas. The four signed, limited edition photos are part of Taylor's series depicting the monuments that mark the U.S.—Mexico border.

The border monuments date to the 1850s, when the International Boundary Commission installed 52 stone obelisks following the Mexican-American War (1846-48). In the 1880s, an additional 206 cast iron border monuments were installed. In 1899, D. R. Payne, a photographer from New Mexico, published a book of photos of each of the monuments.

Taylor was inspired to recreate Payne's work, including additional border markers that were installed after 1899. Taylor received a fellowship in 2008 from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to support his work along the border, and the resulting book Working the Line was published in 2010.

"We are deeply grateful to Jeanne and Mickey Klein for their generous donation to the Briscoe Center's photographic collection," said Don Carleton, executive director of the center. "Beyond their wonderful aesthetic value, Taylor's photographs document the social and cultural milieu surrounding the historic monuments, and provide evidence of the complexity of border relations."

"The rigorous undertaking to reach all of the 276 obelisks has inevitably led to encounters with migrants, smugglers, the Border Patrol, minutemen and residents of the borderlands," Taylor notes. "In total, the resulting pictures are intended to offer a view into locations and situations that we generally do not access and portray a highly complex physical, social and political topography during a period of dramatic change."

David Taylor earned an MFA from the University of Oregon and a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. His photographs, multimedia installations, and artist's books have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at venues that include the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, The New Mexico Museum of Art and the El Paso Museum of Art.

For more information, contact Erin Purdy, associate director for publications, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, 512-495-4692.