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Fronteras: 'Postcards From The Border' Paints Full Picture Of La Frontera With Words, Images And Music

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Juan Longoria Jr., is founder of the Los Fresnos High School Conjunto program.  Longoria continues to teach the musical tradition of the Rio Grande Valley as well as performing with his own conjunto. Los Fresnos, TX | Credit: Joel Salcido
© Joel Salcido, 2019
Juan Longoria Jr., is founder of the Los Fresnos High School Conjunto program. Longoria continues to teach the musical tradition of the Rio Grande Valley as well as performing with his own conjunto. Los Fresnos, TX

Texas border stories are often anchored by the same familiar issues: the interception of drug trafficking attempts, efforts to rescue migrants from dangerous conditions after being abandoned by smugglers, and the ongoing policy debate of how to weave border security efforts with the humane treatment of migrants and asylum seekers.

These topics lend to a familiar narrative often perpetuated by the mainstream media, painting a skewed picture of what life is like for border communities. But for those whose daily lives are integrated with their neighbors south of the border, their experience is much more diverse.

Writer Oscar Cásares and photographer Joel Salcido are natives of the Texas border from Brownsville and El Paso, respectively.

In 2019, the two collaborated to write and photograph life on the border, starting in the far western corner of the state and making their way down the river to the Rio Grande Valley.

The result, “Postcards from the Border,” was originally published by Texas Monthly in August. 2019. The project has since been resurrected and taken a step further with a new collaboration with the Agarita Chamber Players.

While stories about conditions along the southern border are not always inaccurate, Cásares believes it’s often “half news” that often cycles through the media.

“(It’s) not the complete story of the richness and the culture and just diversity that you find if you've grown up there and you have deep roots in the border region,” said Cásares. “And so we felt like there had to be a way of showing that other narrative of the border.”

The upcoming production will weave the words of Cásares and photography by Salcido with classical and contemporary music.

The free, live-streamed event, hosted by the Mexican Cultural Institute San Antonio, takes place Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. CT, but organizers hope to bring the collaboration to a live audience next year.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren