Central campus sculpture is undergoing special treatments

sun reflects off top half of sculpture: man carries woman on his

Border Crossing on central campus before its removal for repairs. Submitted photo.

Border Crossing (Cruzando el Rio Bravo), a totem-like sculpture of a man carrying a woman on his shoulders as she holds a crying infant, was removed from its central campus location southeast of LeBaron Hall last December for conservation.

The polychrome fiberglass sculpture by artist Luis Jiménez is more than 10 feet tall and requires specialized treatments to repair and fill voids that have formed in the fiberglass due to weathering. The inner portion is being filled with an epoxy to prevent future cracking and deterioration of the urethane clear coat. The failing coat is being removed, and areas of concern or loss will be repainted to bring Border Crossing back to its original state. Treatments are being handled by McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Oberlin, Ohio.

The timeline for its return to campus depends on the completion of the conservation work, supply chains, shipping schedules and recently approved plans for replacing LeBaron Hall.

Two-plus decades on campus

Installed on central campus in 1999, Jiménez’s 1989 Border Crossing originally was placed in visual conversation with Christian Petersen's nearby Marriage Ring as part of a temporary exhibition on family resiliency. With support from the campus community and donors, and with approval from the artist himself, the sculpture became a permanent addition to central campus as part of University Museums' Art on Campus collection.

University museums director Lynette Pohlman called Border Crossings "a tremendously important public work of art in our Art on Campus collection, not only due to the reputation of the artist himself, but for the Hispanic cultural representation and voice the sculpture brings to campus."

Conserving it, she said, "ensures students, faculty and all visitors to Iowa State's campus will continue to encounter a diverse range of artists and cultures on their campus."

The sculpture is a memorial to the journey the artist's father and grandparents took during their 1920 immigration to the United States across the Rio Grande River. Jiménez was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1940 as a result of that harrowing trip.

Jiménez is known for his large polychrome fiberglass sculptures of Southwestern and Hispanic themes that captured the everyday person as a hero. He died in June 2006 at his studio in Hondo, New Mexico.