Ron English (American, born 1959)

Noted street artist Ron English creates evocative images and site-specific installations about contemporary commercial and political culture. He coined the term “POPaganda” to describe his landmark mashups and hybrid creations that work across realms of mass culture. In late 1986, English painted over the same stretch of the Berlin Wall as Keith Haring, next to Checkpoint Charlie. After painting in Berlin, and later guerrilla postering on the Israeli separation walls in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, English turned his sights toward the U.S.-Mexico border. On April 1, 2011, English and several collaborators created a constellation of works on both sides of the border. The day’s final activity involved affixing a two-headed donkey, painted with the colors of each country’s flag, to a concrete section of the barrier.

Ron English Two-Headed Donkey on the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall, c. 2011 Collection of the Artist
Ron English
Two-Headed Donkey on the U.S.-Mexico
Border Wall
, c. 2011
Collection of the Artist

This installation attempts to call into question the increased fortifications of this division. As one commentator notes, “The United States and Mexico are linked by historical destiny, but mulish policies on both sides had created the current madness.” English’s daring action encroached upon the unruly landscape at the manufactured border. English recalls, “The parts that are concrete—they built these slopes up to them…They zig zag back and forth. So we had maybe 30 to 60 seconds to actually pull the thing off. And we had to drive down to this ravine to get to the wall. Nobody had ever graffitied it yet…pure canvas.”

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