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Dresses honoring women of Juarez return to West campus

September 02, 2008
Five years after an exhibit of decorated dresses drew public attention to the murders of hundreds of women in Juarez, Mexico, the widely traveled display returns to Arizona State University’s West campus during September. ReDressing Injustice Redux (flyer pdf) is on display in Fletcher Library through Sept. 30.

Some two hundred dresses on six-foot high pink crosses were displayed on the central lawn of the West campus in 2003 as part of the campus’s inaugural Border Justice event. The exhibit, ReDressing Injustice, has since traveled to Mexico, Europe, and sites across the United States, including metropolitan Phoenix.

The 2003 public art installation was developed by visual artist Irene Simmons. Simmons received help from volunteers who participated in workshops that redecorated simple dresses to serve as memorials to the victims in Juarez.

The new exhibit ReDressing Injustice Redux chronicles the journey of the original installation through a selection of dresses along with photographs chronicling the journey of ReDressing Injustice to social justice events during the past five years.

“As we were installing the new exhibit in Fletcher Library, many students asked about the meaning of the memorial dresses,” says Kristin Koptiuch, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. “When we told them about the Juarez murders, they were shocked. Nearly all of the students we spoke with had never heard of the murders.

“This reminds us of the need for continual education about the Juarez femicides, set in the context of the violence against women that has become a prevalent accompaniment to the impact of globalization at the U.S./Mexico border and around the world.”

Two special events are planned in conjunction with the exhibit:

On Wednesday, Sept. 10, two experts will lead a discussion focusing on “Contemporary Views of the Juarez Femicides.” The speakers are Carol Mueller, an ASU sociology professor, and Cynthia Bejarano, a criminal justice faculty member from New Mexico State University. Mueller and Bejarano will unravel the complicated expression of social justice represented by the Juarez femicides and provide an update about advocacy movements addressing the continued violence against women in Juarez. The dialogue will be held from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in Room 229 of the CLCC Building.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, Simmons will host a ReDressing Injustice Workshop. Participants are invited to bring a dress to remake into a memorial in this hands-on workshop from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Room 241 of the CLCC Building.

The original 2003 border justice symposium for which ReDressing Injustice was created, “Gender, Justice and the Border,” became the springboard for an annual event on ASU’s West campus spotlighting border issues. The 2008 installment of the Border Justice Series, held in April, focused on “Education, Justice and the Border.” Planning is under way for the 2009 event, “Crime, Justice and the Border,” from March 31 through April 2. More information about the Border Justice Series is available at

All events associated with ReDressing Injustice Redux are free and open to the public. Sponsors include several West campus groups and programs including the Campus Environment Team, Border Justice Committee, Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Social Justice, Women’s Studies, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.