The Crossway Foundation delivers arts and education initiative for young people in the UK and the Middle East. Its travel and exchange programme for young artists was officially launched ten years ago, and has since made it possible for over 100 artists to travel to different countries. This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary they have embarked on a journey to the USA.
My Art Guides asked Valeria Mariani, the Foundation’s Head of Projects, to send a diary of the journey:
To mark the ten year anniversary of the Crossway Foundation’s ‘Journeys’ programmes, we invited ten alumni from previous programmes from Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria to travel around the Southwest USA. This project was realised in partnership with Art Jameel. The group travelled through Texas and New Mexico from 13 – 27 October 2016 to collaborate with local arts and social organisations.
The journey started in Houston where our jet-lagged group spent the day getting to know each other and their work at FotoFest International. The road trip began in earnest once the group flew to Midland Odessa, rented cars, and made their way to Marfa (272mi; population 1,819), a desert city in far West Texas that became an art hub when minimalist artist Donald Judd moved there in the 1970s. There they visited the JUDD and Chinati Foundations, explored other Marfa institutions such as Ballroom Marfa and Marfa Contemporary and spent an evening in the company of The XX who happened to be in town recording their new album!
The group then moved on to El Paso (194mi; population 649,133), via Elmgreen & Dragset‘s iconic land art project, Prada Marfa. In El Paso they had an intensive two-day workshop focusing on border issues with local students at the University of Texas at El Paso facilitated by Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller of Agency Architecture. The group were asked to think about what they would pack with them to cross a border (legally or illegally), an idea inspired by the 20% of UTEP’s student population that cross the USA/Mexico border to and from Juárez on a daily basis to attend classes.
After El Paso the group spent an afternoon at White Sands National Monument (70mi; population 1,651) before logistics became slightly more complicated… The majority of the group moved on to experience life on a working ranch just outside Magdalena (209mi; population 926) while just five people (all it can host!) each night over the course of three nights, went to experience an immersive stay at Walter de Maria’s iconic land art work, The Lightning Field (72mi; population 228), in Catron County, New Mexico. No photography, no service and no wifi was an unusual experience for our group, who set about documenting their experience in diverse and interesting ways, including illustrations, landscape colour palettes, zines and landscape rubbings.
The group then headed to Albuquerque Airport (135mi; population 556,495) for the final leg of their journey which saw them fly back to Houston. The journey ended back at FotoFest International where the group presented their work impressions of their time in the USA to a number of curators and members of the city’s art scene.
Approx. total mileage: 952mi
- Day 4- Night time photo shoot in Marfa, TX (Photo by Najd Al Taher)
- Day 4- Visiting the Chinati Foundation (Photo by Majed Engawi)
- Day 6- Morning visit to Donald Judd's '15 untitled works in concrete' (Photo by Majed Engawi)