Hostile Terrain 94 and Detention Nation

April 17 – May 15, 2021

Public Art UHS, the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies (CCS) at the University of Houston and the Sin Huellas Artist Collective collaborated to present a double exhibition featuring Hostile Terrain 94 and Detention Nation. These artist-activist projects sought to expand the dialogue concerning the violence of immigration enforcement, border policing, and migrant detention in the United States.

Hostile Terrain 94 was a participatory art project sponsored and organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art education-media collective. The exhibition was composed of over 3,200 handwritten toe tags representing the human remains of migrants who have died trying to cross the US-Mexico border since the mid-1990s. This installation was exhibited at more than 125 institutions nationally and globally.

Detention Nation was a companion virtual exhibition to Hostile Terrain 94. The Houston-based collective Sin Huellas originally conceived Detention Nation as a physical multi-media installation consisting of video, audio, detainee letters, cyanotype body prints, and plaster body casts huddled in Mylar emergency blankets. For this presentation, Sin Huellas has re-designed the physical installation as an online site that includes updated information about youth incarceration and family separations.

The Sin Huellas Artist Collective, Spanish for ‘without a trace,’ is a collective composed of Mexican, Latinx, and American artists and activists. The core members of Sin Huellas include: artists Delilah Montoya and Brenda Cruz-Wolf, artist-organizer Orlando Lara, organizer Deyadira Arellano, designers Matt O’Hare and Violette Bule and transcription support from Jonathan Gonzalez. Montoya is a professor at UH’s School of the Arts.

Hostile Terrain 94 and Detention Nation were co-sponsored by Public Art UHS and a number of academic departments at the University of Houston, among them: the Center for Mexican American Studies, the Center for Public History, the Creative Writing program, the Department of Economics, the Department of English and , the Department of Hispanic Studies. Additionally, Hostile Terrain 94 receives generous support from UH student organizations including the Association of Latinx/Hispanic Advocates & Allies, the Council for Cultural Activities, the Hallyu Club and the Blaffer Art Museum Student Association.


University of Houston

Blaffer Art Museum

Hostile Terrain 94

Learn more about Hostile Terrain 94.

Detention Nation

Watch the virtual exhibition.