‘Fishers of Men’ exhibit at Beach Museum represents oppression faced by refugees

Fidencio Fifield-Perez's "Fishers of Men" on display at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. (Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this article, the Collegian incorrectly spelled Kathrine Schlageck’s name. The Beach Museum is also not open on Mondays, as was incorrectly stated at the end of the article. The Collegian apologizes for these errors.

The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is host to many works of art. Its newest installation, “Fishers of Men,” acts as a visual salute to the anguished victims of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Artist Fidencio Fifield-Perez’s work, “Fishers of Men,” is concocted of decommissioned nautical maps containing information from the U.S. government’s Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. It is spattered with acrylic paint and cut up using traditional paper-cutting techniques on what resembles a large fishing net. It is a captivating expression that still applies to this lifetime’s terrifying and grim realities of grueling oppression.

Aileen Wang, curator at the museum, explained Fifield-Perez’s work more in-depth.

“The result is a square image containing a blue globe with messy borders,” Wang said. “In many parts, the artist’s cutting follows grids on the maps and makes the whole thing look like netting that will break easily. The cuttings and the blue, watery paint make me think of how fragile and artificial man-made borders are, like a flimsy net trying to capture and contain water and living things.”

(Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)
(Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)

Fifield-Perez created this piece in 2016, with most of his work encapsulating the feeling of oppression immigrants and refugees face. As an immigrant himself, Fifield-Perez was smuggled into the United States from Mexico as a child and has since devoted his life to conveying the hardships of fellow immigrants everywhere through his artistic endeavors.

Kathrine Schlageck, associate curator of education, has gotten to know Fifield-Perez over the past few years.

“His family came to the United States to make a better life, and he grew up as a DACA child,” Schlageck said. “His work addresses the need for all people who deserve a better, safer life … ‘Fishers of Men’ reflects the hope and unfortunate reality of [the] world.”

Upon its original exhibition in 2017, Fifield-Perez called for excerpts of British-Somali poet Warsan Shire’s poem “Home” to be positioned alongside his own works’ labels. The passage from “Home” — which is read on the labels of “Fishers of Men” — is as follows:

“no one leaves home

unless home is the mouth of a shark.

you have to understand

no one puts their children in a boat

unless the water is safer than the land.”

Elizabeth Seaton, another curator for the museum, spoke about her interpretation of the piece.

(Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)
(Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)

“Fishers of Men evokes fragility to me,” Seaton said. “It makes me think about the fragility of our world. Not only our environment, but our humanity … what will happen if we don’t come together to help those who are experiencing need, or loss, or tragedy.”

The Beach Museum of Art is located on the southeast corner of the K-State campus and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. More information about the museum and its exhibitions is available through the Beach Museum website.