WASHINGTON DC— Desert is often defined by its void of life due to scorching temperatures and perpetual drought. In Joey Enriquez’ MFA thesis exhibition desierto desierto, illuminated glass objects shaped to resemble endangered desert plants and a looming partial wall constructed from adobe brick manifest memorial of survival. Archived family history and personal accounts of interacting with the desert are the vehicle for which the objects in this exhibition enchant viewers—inviting them to leave what they know about identity and environment behind and become immersed in a space of magical memorial.
This exhibition deconstructs the dangerous generalization that the desert is inherently lifeless; this false statement allows for an infill of erasure by which we collectively forget about the plight of indigenous peoples, women, and the physical environment. As a deserting of narratives ensues, the act of remembering the stories of marginalization, from a limited base of knowledge historically, serves as a memorial that brings the truth of the past, manifested in the present, to the forefront of lost histories. Merging with the climate crises and social unrest of the present, remembrance of the lost histories of the desert replace erasure with representation.