By Stacey Leasca
August 01, 2019

Ronald Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, had an idea. He wanted to design, create, and build something that would bring joy to children and adults everywhere. So, he set to work building a bright-pink seesaw to delight the masses. And sure, it’s a great looking seesaw, but it’s where Rael placed it that’s really getting all the attention.

Over the weekend Rael and his design partner Virginia San Fratello installed their three pink seesaws along the U.S. and Mexico border, ensuring each side had a perfect balance. Rael posted about their installation on Instragram and explained the meaning behind it.

American and Mexican families play with a toy called "up and down" (Seesaw swing) over the Mexican border with US at the Anapra zone in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, Mexico on July 28, 2019.
LUIS TORRES/Getty Images
LUIS TORRES/Getty Images

“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side,” Rael wrote. He went on to thank everyone involved, including the community members on both sides who showed up to play.

In the photos and videos posted on Rael, both children and adults can be seen laughing, playing, and enjoying one another’s company through the fence. In a second video, a young girl can be heard exclaiming, “This is fun!”

The seesaws were in place for about 30 minutes total, according to San Fratello. Border agents quickly came to inspect the art, however, they allowed the playtime to continue until its natural end.

“I think they got it,” San Fratello told The Washington Post. “They were very courteous and professional and they seemed to understand the intent of the project. They let us go on until we decided that it was a good time to take it down.”

According to Fast Company, the seesaw installation was the culmination of years of work and research by the pair. San Fratello previously published a book, Borderwall as Architecture. That book both examines the messages behind building a wall as well as offers conceptual designs for a new vision of a border wall. Fast Company additionally reported that the pair of architects actually first sketched their idea for the seesaws more than a decade ago.

LUIS TORRES/Getty Images
LUIS TORRES/Getty Images

“We frequently travel through southern California, Arizona, and Texas and we saw portions of the wall being built or beefed up,” San Fratello additionally told The Washington Post. “We saw how it was changing people’s lives. We saw that disruption and wanted to think about scenarios that would bring people together.”

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