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Artist aims to ‘Make America Grate Again’ with cheese wall at US-Mexico border

LA artist builds 6-foot-high cheese wall on the US-Mexico border in California

Artist Cosimo Cavallaro is building a 6-foot wall of $100 blocks of hard cotija cheese on the US-Mexico border in Tecate, California, to express his view that Trump’s wall is a waste. He said he's built 30 feet so far.
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Artist Cosimo Cavallaro is building a 6-foot wall of $100 blocks of hard cotija cheese on the US-Mexico border in Tecate, California, to express his view that Trump’s wall is a waste. He said he's built 30 feet so far.

President Trump’s proposed wall between the United States and Mexico isn’t the only barrier along the Southern Border that’s seeking additional funding.

Cosimo Cavallaro, a Los Angeles-based artist, started building a competing wall (6 feet high, fabricated entirely of $100 cheese blocks) on Monday in Tecate, California, near the border with Mexico. Cavallaro had erected 30 feet of the wall using 200 solid blocks of the dairy product as of Tuesday afternoon, he said, and now he’s asking for donations to buy more cotija cheese slabs and make the barrier as long as possible.

To that end, Cavallaro has set up a GoFundMe page to support the project, and he’s selling T-shirts on his website to raise funds, including one featuring an image of a cheese grater to make the pun “Make America Grate Again” — a play on Trump’s oft-repeated campaign slogan.

“There’s a humor in this. The idea is: This is a wall of cheese, it’s perishable,” Cavallaro told McClatchy in a phone interview on Tuesday, as he took a break from building the installation. “People will say, ‘This is a waste.’”

That response to his “wasteful” wall will raise another question, the artist said: “You can see the waste in this [cheese] wall, but you can’t see the waste in a $10 billion wall?”

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As of Tuesday, the wall was 30 feet long — but the artist said he hopes to expand it by fundraising from GoFundMe and elsewhere. Alan Shaffer cheesewall.com

Cavallaro said he’s had the idea of building a wall out of cheese, one of his favorite materials, for years. But it wasn’t until Trump was elected on the promise of building a “big, beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border that Cavallaro saw his chance, he said.

“I came down to see the border and realized: That’s the context for my wall,” Cavallaro said. “It’s about borders. It’s about overcoming that boundary. I believe that as humans that’s what we’re here to experience. We come up against them, we overcome them and we keep growing.”

Facing a resistant Congress, Trump has sought to fund his wall by declaring a national emergency to allow him to use military construction funding on border barriers instead.

But why cheese for Cavallaro’s wall?

“I like cheese,” Cavallaro said, citing a childhood in Canada and roots in Italy. “It’s just part of my upbringing. I love the smell of it. It brings me back in time.”

Cavallaro said he’s been laying the groundwork for the project — including getting cheese of the right consistency and finding the land for it — for about a year.

According to the project’s website, the wall could extend up to 1,000 feet with more buy-in and donations from supporters.

“The idea is to get people involved in building this installation,” Cavallaro said.

The GoFundMe has raised more than $1,000 so far, with a stated goal of $300,000.

The artist and his wife, Sarah, who is producing the project, have shared video on Facebook of the installation being constructed.

Cavallaro has a year-long lease on the space where he’s constructing the wall, KFMB reports.

Cavallaro is “renowned for his use of perishable foods” beyond cheese, including ketchup, ham and chocolate, the Canadian newspaper National Post reports: “Previous works include ‘My Sweet Lord’ — a six-foot-tall, anatomically correct Jesus sculpted from milk chocolate — and room 114 at the Washington Jefferson Hotel in New York City, which he smothered in 455 kilograms (1,000 lb) of melted mozzarella.”

In declaring his signing of an executive order to declare a national emergency, President Trump said on Feb. 15, "it's been signed many times before...there's rarely been a problem."

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