University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the David Taylor Border Monument Photographs, 2009

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Taylor, David, photographer.
Title: Taylor (David) Border Monument Photographs
Dates: 2009
Abstract: Four color inkjet prints showing U.S.-Mexico border monuments by American photographer David Taylor, from his series "Working the Line."
Accession No.: 2011-353
Extent: 4 photographic prints
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Photographer David Taylor received a BFA from Tufts University and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1989 and a MFA in Visual Design and Photography from University of Oregon in 1994. Major past projects by Taylor include “High Water,” which documents the Columbia River region near the Grand Coulee Dam; “Frontier/Frontera,” an examination of the American West and the U.S.-Mexico border region; and “A Measure of Faith and a Line in the Sand,” showing the pilgrimage at Mount Cristo Rey near El Paso, Texas. Taylor began photographing the U.S. Border Patrol in 2006, a project that evolved into “Working the Line,” a photographic documentation of the U.S.-Mexico border that includes photographs of the 276 late 19th century monuments that mark the border between El Paso and the Pacific Ocean. Taylor received a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in 2008 to support his continuing work on the project and plans to finish photographing the markers during the fall of 2011.

Taylor’s work has been exhibited at James Kelly Contemporary Gallery, the Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and the El Paso Museum of Art and has been featured in The New Yorker blog, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Orion Magazine, PREFIX PHOTO, Fraction Magazine and the Mexico/Latin America edition of Esquire Magazine. A monograph of Taylor’s border photography, “Working the Line,” was published by Radius Books in 2010.

As of 2012, Taylor is an Associate Professor of Photography at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and is represented by James Kelley Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Jennifer Stoots in Portland, Oregon.


Hamblett, Jennifer. (June 15, 2011). "Silent sentinels along a vast frontier". New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2012, from

Taylor, David (n.d.). David Taylor Studio web site. Retrieved May 1, 2012 from

Scope and Contents

The David Taylor Border Monuments Photographs consists of four 30 x 37 in. color archival inkjet prints from Taylor’s “Working the Line” series, a photographic project that documents the 276 U.S.-Mexico border markers between El Paso and the Pacific Ocean. The photographs in the Briscoe Center’s collection include Border Monument No. 204 (near San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, and Yuma, Arizona); Border Monument No. 81 (near Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Mexico); Border Monument No. 244 (near Tecate, Mexico); and Border Monument No. 221 (near Calexico–Mexicali). Taylor based his project on an 1899 photographic survey of the border obelisks by Albuquerque photographer D. R. Payne, rephotographing the monuments using camera angles similar to the earlier images in order to show changes to the monuments and their surroundings over time. The four prints at the Briscoe Center were photographed in 2009.

The International Boundary Commission (IBC) erected the border obelisks shown in Taylor’s photographs during the late 19th century. Beginning in 1889, the IBC resurveyed the U.S.-Mexico border, and from 1891 to 1894 the group reconstructed deteriorating markers erected in the 1850s after the Mexican-American War. The IBC also created 206 new markers to more clearly delineate the border, increasing the total number of markers from 52 to 258. Over the following two decades, 18 additional border monuments were installed.



The photographs are arranged numerically by border marker number.


Use Restrictions

Photographer retains copyright on all materials in this collection.

Index Terms

Borderlands Mexico--Photographs.
Borderlands United States--Photographs.
Mexican-American Border Region--Photographs.
Monuments Arizona--Photographs.
Monuments California--Photographs.
Agua Prieta (Sonora, Mexico)--Photographs.
Calexico (Calif.)--Photographs.
Mexicali (Mexico)--Photographs.
San Luis Río Colorado (Mexico)--Photographs.
San Luis (Yuma County, Ariz.)--Photographs.
Tecate (Mexico)--Photographs.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

David Taylor Border Monument Photographs, 2009, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Amy Bowman in May 2012.

Detailed Description of the Collection

3rd floor, West Wall Photographic prints, 2009
Border Monument No. 81, 2009
Border Monument No. 204, 2009
Border Monument No. 221, 2009
Border Monument No. 244, 2009