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NYC gallery displays migrants' backpacks, belongings

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/11/2017 By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press
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A Dora the Explorer backpack is one of hundreds of backpacks left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design continues through April 17. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) © The Associated Press A Dora the Explorer backpack is one of hundreds of backpacks left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design continues through April 17. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) — A Manhattan gallery is displaying a wall of 700 backpacks and belongings of migrants who illegally crossed the U.S. border. Some of them died in the Arizona desert.

An empty water jug is one of hundreds of items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the border into the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design continues through April 17. Writing on the jug reads in Spanish, "buena suerte amigas" or, "good luck friends." (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) © The Associated Press An empty water jug is one of hundreds of items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the border into the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design continues through April 17. Writing on the jug reads in Spanish, "buena suerte amigas" or, "good luck friends." (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

"Now, more than ever, in the aftermath of a presidential campaign that fed off anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric, it is absolutely critical to look deeper into the migrant experience and raise questions as to what the future may hold for the thousands of people fleeing dire poverty, drug cartel violence, and political instability to the south," said a statement from the curators of the exhibit that opened recently in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center of The New School.

A pile of combs and tooth brushes are some of the items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The items were collected as part of the research of University of Michigan anthropologist Jason De León's Undocumented Migration Project. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) © The Associated Press A pile of combs and tooth brushes are some of the items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The items were collected as part of the research of University of Michigan anthropologist Jason De León's Undocumented Migration Project. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

A pile of mobile phones are some of the items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design continues through April 17. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) © The Associated Press A pile of mobile phones are some of the items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design continues through April 17. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

"We built this wall of backpacks," said artist and photographer Richard Barnes, who helped create the display.

A tattered sweatshirt is one of hundreds of items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design continues through April 17. In a written statement the curators said the exhibit, "honors the sheer materiality of the migrant experience. These objects are fragments of a history of both suffering and resiliency, and the images and voices reveal the desolation, hope and trials of their odysseys." (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) © The Associated Press A tattered sweatshirt is one of hundreds of items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. The exhibit at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design continues through April 17. In a written statement the curators said the exhibit, "honors the sheer materiality of the migrant experience. These objects are fragments of a history of both suffering and resiliency, and the images and voices reveal the desolation, hope and trials of their odysseys." (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

In their backpacks, migrants brought clothing, other personal items and even photographs of themselves — but not enough water to guarantee survival in the harsh Sonoran Desert.

A beer can is one of hundreds of items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) © The Associated Press A beer can is one of hundreds of items left behind by migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border on display in the "State of Exception" exhibit, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The exhibit, called "State of Exception," is the result of a project started at the University of Michigan by anthropologist Jason De Leon and expanded by Barnes and another artist and curator, Amanda Krugliak.

"With this exhibition, we are pleased to declare the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center galleries a state of inclusion in which migrants are welcome," said Radhika Subramaniam, the center's director and chief curator.

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