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Bridges not walls

Bridges not Walls
By Shelly Denning
Performed November 29 and December 1, 2020

Acrylic, wax candles, lighters, fabric, table, metal spoon, adhesive


This piece is a performance/sculpture in which a structure holding multiple small candles follows the shape of the US/Mexico border. It was initially performed on The Square in Denton, TX on November 29, 2020 at 7pm. The intention was to allow viewers to participate by lighting and melting the candles that represent the border wall. Unfortunately, the strong winds that evening did not permit the lighting of a single candle and continuously blew over not only the elements of the art piece, but also lighting and recording equipment. A second performance was conducted in my home on December 1, 2020. 



The border wall between the United States and Mexico stands against everything on which this nation was founded. By building such walls, we are sending the message that we no longer accept “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The wall needs to be eliminated. Borders need to be opened. This country needs to go back to what it once was: a place for all.


Guests are invited to light a candle in honor of those who have fought to make a new home here, those who have come here to make a better life for their families and those who have lost their lives in the attempt. As the candles burn down, so does the wall. However, it requires constant attention. You cannot simply light the flame and walk away, expecting it to continue to burn. The winds of fear and hate will carry them away if not properly maintained. And I cannot do it alone. This fight is our fight. This dream is our dream. Together, we can begin to build a bridge between the two nations, allowing free entry to those who seek it.

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