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Arts & Culture

Looking Back at Today: Forty-Five Years on the U.S.-Mexico Border

About the Event

The Photographer’s Eye Gallery in Escondido will host an exhibit by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Don Bartletti, “Looking Back at Today: Forty-Five Years on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” which documents decades of struggle along one of the most politically contested boundaries on the planet.

The show will match ten black and white images from Bartletti’s early photojournalistic career, which began in 1972, with ten recently shot images from the past three years. The photos illustrate that despite the passage of time, little has changed as people seek to improve their lives.

“These sets of photographs describe the heart and soul of my newspaper career,” Bartletti said. “Over four decades I proposed stories about immigration and published thousands of images and photo essays. It remains the breaking news story that has no deadline, is as old as our species and is unlikely to ever end—human migration.”

The free exhibit will open at the nonprofit Photographer’s Eye Gallery, 326 E. Grand Ave., on May 18 and continue until June 15. The gallery is open Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment by contacting [email protected], or by calling 760-522-2170.

Bartletti will give a lecture at the Grand Theater Juniper Room, 321 E. Grand Ave., across the street from the gallery, on May 18 at 3 p.m., for which there will be a $10 charge. He will also conduct a meet and greet at the gallery on May 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Bartletti began his work as a photojournalist in 1972 in San Diego County and spent seven years at the San Diego Union-Tribune before moving to the Los Angeles Times in 1984. He is best known for his photo essay in which he followed undocumented Central American youths as they hopped trains through Mexico to the United States, often facing deadly danger. The work, “Enrique’s Journey,” earned Bartletti the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

While Bartletti’s photographs are documentary, their visual and emotional impact have elevated them to the level of art and have been shown at numerous venues, including the International Center for Photography in New York; the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, INBA, in Mexico City; Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and many others.

His work had attracted global recognition and he has been honored with many awards, including the 2002 Robert F. Kennedy Grand Prize for International Photojournalism, the 2002 George Polk Award for International Reporting, and the 2015 Overseas Press Club Award for Reporting on Latin America.

Bartletti said that when he began his career as a photojournalist he had no idea he’d be photographing the same story 45 years later. “I thought 40 years ago 30 years ago this could never last,” he said. “But it’s morphed into another kind of migration that proves, once again, there’s no stopping migration for survival. It’s human nature.”


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