Barrier Free is a socially engaged art installation designed by artist Yancy Villa-Calvo for Latino Memphis about the impact of barriers.

Throughout history, humans have built walls to protect, define and divide. Some walls are physical, others are intangible barriers. Regardless of their composition, barriers keep people from being able to reach their goals or desired destination.

The installation attempts to be inclusive and open to interpretation. Symbols will make reference to barriers around nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation and identity, gender and socioeconomic aspects. This project is less about the actual wall and more about the systematic attempts to divide individuals, families and communities.

Barrier Free Installation includes three main elements.

A physical barrier with portraits of families and individuals. Immigrants, refugees, Jews, LGBT individuals and families, Muslims, African Americans, Caucasians, Asians, Christians and more will represent our city’s diverse tapestry. Everyone is an essential part of our community, and separating us, physically, emotionally or in any other form, makes our community incomplete.

Freestanding life-size mirror & cut-out silhouettes of families surrounding the wall. The silhouettes will portray different scenarios: a father carrying a small child, a caregiver pushing a wheelchair, to name a couple. Some of the images will be cut out leaving an empty space representing a missing person, underscoring the consequences of barriers. Viewers will be a able see their own reflection when standing in front of the silhouettes, provoking empathy.

An actual fence in which people can express a wish, a frustration, a solution, a thought, or prayer for, in honor or in memory of someone. They will be able to write it down on a tag and tie it to the fence. Also the viewers can make a donation to organizations who are already working on this social endeavor. This will allow people to participate and engage in social change in a more permanent way.

The Making of Barrier Free Art