Enrique Chiu aims to break a world record by canvassing a mile of the US-Mexico border wall with art

Like a growing number of us, Enrique Chiu has lived a cross-border life. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, he first crossed the border into the United States with his mother when he was eight years old. After living in Los Angeles without status for a year, they then returned to Mexico. Later, Enrique returned to the U.S. on a student visa to attend Cal State Long Beach, and stayed for 12 years.

Ten years ago, he moved to Tijuana. “You can live the American dream here, too,” he says. “And you can do whatever you want.”

Enrique’s plan to cover over 1 mile of the US-Mexico border wall with art, or 18,000 square meters, will earn it a Guiness World Record for the largest outdoor mural.

“El Arte es una oportunidad de decir cosas que trascienden / Art is an opportunity to say things that transcend”

-Enrique Chiu

Last December, shortly after Trump’s election, Enrique launched his vision to create the largest outdoor mural in the world, Mural de la Hermandad, or the Brotherhood Mural.

He has since enlisted help from over 2,600 volunteers to cover over a mile of the border wall on the Mexican side in Tijuana with art, as well as shorter stretches in Tecate, Mexicali, Ciudad Juarez, Naco, and Reynosa.

Chiu says, “This project suddenly became a movement. A spontaneous form of organization and protest.”

Volunteers help decorate the border wall with messages of hope and solidarity

Chiu also says that the existing border wall and Trump’s plans to build further “Are a sign of rejection and exclusion. The Mexican people, the Hispanics and Latinos are the ones that hit that wall. A wall of incomprehension.”

“If we could, we’d paint it all, but that’s impossible. As impossible as bulletproofing the border strip as promised by President Donald Trump. I am a muralist. If you put another wall in front of me, I’ll paint it. If they do put up the wall it’s another canvas where people can paint, where people can express themselves along the border.”

Chiu told the Desert Sunthatthe murals are intended to spread messages of peace and solidarity to people crossing the border by car or on foot. They are also intended to provide hope to migrants risking danger as they cross northward over the border.

“The large-scale mural can be seen from afar. But we also leave small messages that can be read by the migrants… We leave messages of support, of hope.”

Border wall art in Playas Tijuana. Photo Credit: Tina Shull

Volunteer artists have included those whose families have been separated by U.S. immigration laws and deportation, activists, faith groups, and entire classes of students.

The Trump administration has waived over 60 regulations and environmental laws to speed border wall construction, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection is currently testing prototypes. But this fall, the state of California has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to halt border wall construction.

“We want to send a message of peace, of kinship, of unity between the two nations,” Chiu says. “If they build the wall, it’s more canvas for us. I believe we’ll paint that one, too.”

To get involved and support the Brotherhood Mural, follow Enrique Chiu on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Roberto Arce

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Story compiled by Tina Shull. All images were provided by Enrique Chiu unless otherwise indicated, and are further credited in linked articles or on the artist’s Facebook page.