James Drake

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Events along the U.S.-Mexican border are part of the daily psychic undertow in the Southwest, even for middle-class Anglos, who have come to believe that the traffic—day laborers, political refugees, drug smugglers, and the anticipated menace of killer bees—crosses overwhelmingly in one direction. James Drake has resolutely stationed his art at the border in a double sense: by working there—in El Paso, Texas for the last 22 years—and by focusing on the pathos of that sovereign boundary as the subject of his recent drawings and sculpture installations.

In this group of seven works Drake attempts to retrieve a recurrent tragedy from the decay of journalistic memory and to raise it to the level of persistent and permanent symbolic evidence. In The Illegal, 1987, the evidence is specific and literal; the interior of a boxcar strewn with shoes, clothing, and a cardboard carton, scarred by a

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