It has been five months since 43 students in Mexico were abducted and burned to death, according to government officials there, which has inspired artists and activists around the world to create moving tributes, including about 20 New School students during an early February event.
The Mexican students at a teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa abruptly disappeared on Sept. 26 and many speculated wildly about what happened to them until a recent government press conference.
“Without a doubt, we can conclude that the students at the teachers’ college were abducted, killed, burned and thrown into the San Juan River, in that order,” said Mexican Attorney General Jesus Karam.
Investigators were still trying to determine why the students were murdered, the government said.
The shocking news inspired artists and activists around the world to create expressions of solidarity with political demonstrations, posts to social media and art pieces.
New Schoolers and members of a city citywide student activist group called the Ayotzinapa Student Front gathered in the University Center’s social justice hub on Feb. 10 to create what they called a virtual quilt, a nod to the famous AIDS memorial quilt that began in June 1987 in the city of San Francisco.
Each attendee created a piece on a square cloth or paper that expressed what they felt about the students’ gruesome deaths.
The event’s organizer, Andrea Arroyo, a Mexican activist and artist who specializes in public art, photographed each piece before uploading them to a website where she then places them side by side to create a kind of “virtual quilt”, as she calls it.
The website, Tribute Now, already boasts nearly 200 tributes from around the world.
“Art is a way to open the heart, open the mind,” Arroyo said.
“The process of art is healing, it builds community, builds bridges and gives us an opportunity to talk about these things,” the organizer added.
Everybody completed a tribute by the end of the night. The squares included pop up drawings, oil paintings, and 43 glued seeds, in honor of each of the disappeared students.