A Los Angeles artist has answered President Trump’s call for a border wall with Mexico.
Vowing to “Make America Grate Again,” Cosimo Cavallaro is creating a wall of cheese next to the actual border in Tecate, Calif.
“The first thing that comes to your mind is that it’s absurd,” Cavallaro said by phone on his way to work on the wall, which is already 5 feet tall and 30 feet long.
It’s a ludicrous effort, he said, referring to both walls.
“To spend all this money to keep dividing the countries, I think is a waste,” he said. “You see the waste in my wall, but you can’t see the waste in [Trump’s] $10-billion wall, which in time will be removed?”
As he set down slabs of cotija — a hard, crumbly cow’s milk cheese from the Mexican state of Michoacán — a Border Patrol agent walked by the desert landscape. He gave Cavallaro a thumbs-up.
“Nice place for a picnic,” the agent said, chuckling.
Cavallaro said he works with perishable components such as cheese to demonstrate the fleeting and decadent nature of material objects and humankind.
Most famously, he created “My Sweet Lord,” a 200-pound sculpture of Jesus made of chocolate displayed in New York.
But one of his favorite materials to work with is cheese, inspired by his Italian roots. He has drenched a hotel room in melted mozzarella and even outfitted the supermodel Twiggy in the dairy product.
Cavallaro said he has long wanted to make a wall of cheese, but it wasn’t until November 2016 that Trump gave him the inspiration he needed. He set out to find a location along the U.S.-Mexico border and rented a 14-acre piece of land in southeastern San Diego County.
“This has been on my mind for many years, but when he became president, it became obvious that was the place to do it,” Cavallaro said.
The exhibit stands just a few feet away from a metal fence topped with barbed wire that divides the United States and Mexico.
It was pure coincidence that while Cavallaro was planning his cheese wall late last year and the government was preparing a shutdown in Trump’s fight over funding an actual wall at the border that House Republicans called an emergency meeting — to discuss cheese. Lawmakers wanted to address a bill called the Curd Act, a proposal to allow some cheeses to be advertised as “natural” despite having artificial ingredients.
At least one legislator was clearly cheesed at the interruption.
“This is an emergency meeting that we’re having here and I’ve seen some surreal things around this place, but this is really something,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said. “Vital parts of our government are about to shut down in just a few hours, and the Republicans have called an emergency meeting on cheese.”
In other cheesy news, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway mistakenly called Trump the “commander of cheese” in an interview in June with CNN.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” Cavallaro said, adding that he takes inspiration from life’s absurdities. “Our cheesy times,” he said.
While Trump continues to fight with Congress over funding for his wall, more than $1,000 has been raised for Cavallaro’s. The artist is hosting a GoFundMe campaign and selling mugs and T-shirts with the slogan “Make America Grate Again” and “Make America Say Cheese.”
Each slab of cheese costs $100, and Cavallaro hopes to raise enough money to stretch the wall along 1,000 feet of the southern border.
Despite the obvious comparisons, Cavallaro insists his installation is not political. He simply wants to show that people are better off without walls dividing them and inciting fear.
“It sounds cheesy,” he said, “but just love one another.”