When President Trump declared he would build a “great, great wall,” the national conversation turned to how much it would cost, where it would be built, and, more importantly, who it would divide. Los Angeles–based artist Cosimo Cavallaro decided he would make a wall of his own—out of Mexican cotija cheese.
Cavallaro’s cheese wall is just steps away from a rusty old metal barrier, which is being torn down and replaced, in the town of Tecate in Southern California.
“Trump’s border wall won’t last. It’s just like a wall of cheese,” he says, reflecting on the proposed 2,000-mile-long barrier.
Cavallaro uses cheese in his work on a regular basis because he considers it a cultural symbol. Cotija cheese originated in Michoacán and is used in many Mexican dishes, from elote to enchiladas. He says the Mexican cheese wall is a form of protest against Trump’s plan.
“[My art is] political in nature because it’s about people. Walls are about people. It’s about our society,” he says.
Although people often chuckle when they see the wall of now-rotting cheese, Cavallaro says the reaction means his art is working. He believes that his cheese wall, like Trump’s real wall, is so unnatural it’s almost silly. He hopes his art will make people take a moment to reflect on the experiences of immigrants and refugees.
“Most people don’t know what it’s like to have to leave your country because it’s miserable there,” he says. “It’s important to find compassion. If only people could realize we are all immigrants, that understanding would move us forward.”