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by Padmananda Rama

This photograph is included in an exhibition currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Photography In Mexico. (Border fence, near Naco, Ariz., 2010)
Victoria Sambunaris/Yancey Richardson Gallery

This photograph is included in an exhibition currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Photography In Mexico. (Border fence, near Naco, Ariz., 2010)

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Victoria Sambunaris is standing on a cliff overlooking the Rio Grande in Roma, Texas.

From her vantage point, she says, she can view children swimming in the river while their families sit at picnic tables and barbecue across the bank. Some of the children race on their Jet Skis, trying to keep up with U.S. border agents patrolling the river on pontoons.

This portion of the Rio Grande divides Roma from Ciudad Miguel Aleman in Mexico. It's one of many border towns that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border, which spans nearly 2,000 miles — separating four U.S. and six Mexican states.

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This is also one of many stops Sambunaris, a photographer, has made along the border this year. Over the course of eight months, the New York-based Sambunaris has journeyed west from Del Rio, Texas, to San Diego, documenting the landscape with a large-format, 5-by-7 field camera. She calls it her "Border Series."

"I might say that I relate to this place for many reasons, being first-generation Greek with immigrant parents who came to this country in search of the American dream," Sambunaris writes in an email interview with NPR.

Her collection documents the physical landscape, which is an inherent part of the debate over immigration policy, as well as the violence erupting in border towns ignited by Mexican drug cartels.

"When I leave New York my friends are terrified for me," says Sambunaris. "They don't see the ... truth of the border — what the border really is — which is this incredible, rich place. It's beautiful."

A sense of place is evident either from Sambunaris' photos taken from high, or even on flat terrain. At first glance, some may not appear to be taken at the border; look closer, though, and many do have some trace of the border fence running directly across the center of the image.

"I'm trying to convey that it is one: one landscape and one place, although they're two different countries," says Sambunaris on the phone from Santa Fe, N.M., where she's taking a break from her latest road trip.

She says it's not long before she will be drawn back to the border's edge.

"You have all these border towns, and they're all unique in their own way, and there's a beautiful culture there," says Sambunaris. "Life still exists regardless of what's going on."

During her drives, border patrol agents have offered their own advice, acting as tour guides and telling her the best vantage points. Sambunaris says they've even offered her lifts and guided tours. Driving through remote areas, it's hard not to be noticed.

"Driving a dark gray Suburban with tinted windows and New York plates along the border fence definitely requires I tell Border Patrol I am there and why."

The focus of her next series examines the border's commerce and the many cars, trucks and trains that travel across it. Despite warnings of violence, her goal is to cross over to the Mexican side of the border, which she has begun to do, and take photos from there, too.

Tags: New Mexico, Immigration, Border Patrol , Mexico, Texas

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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It's time once more for a look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today's photos include researchers dressed in panda costumes, a massage given by an African snail, a 39-pound cat named Meow, a Japanese macaque with hay fever, and orangutans having a playdate using FaceTime on an iPad. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers, part of an ongoing series on animals in the news. [41 photos]

Polar bear cub Anori explores the outdoor enclosure at the zoo in Wuppertal, Germany, on Monday, April 23, 2012. Anori was born on January 4 and is becoming a visitor's highlight. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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Bear Kirkpatrick, You Play Against A Sickness Past Your Cure, Portsmouth, NH

Nicole 'Coco' Chenot, Into the Light, Fort Collins, CO

Vicky Slater, Hector, Salisbury, England

Jennifer Loeber, Greenpoint, #9, 2011, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, Eye to Eye, Airtran between LGA and ORD

Kevin McCollister, Paloma, East Olympic Blvd, near Cenral Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Carol S. Dass, Mother, Missouri, MO

Tammy Cromer-Campbell, Porta-Potty Christmas 2, Longview, Texas

Laura Glabman, Untitled, December 2011, Lawrence, New York

Ellen Jantzen, Melancholia from Losing Reality; Reality of Loss, Rural Park in Missouri

Anthony Korotko Hatch, Landscape 9718, Los Angeles CA

Harvey Benge, Paris, November 2011, Paris

Mariya Ustymenko, Glemorgana (2011), Matrello Beach, Jaywick, Essex, United Kingdom

Russ Rowland, Mom (2011), New York City

Deb Peluso, Reflections on Red Hook, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY

Christian Rivière, Beach, Gruissan, France

Yvette Meltzer, So Good to See You Again, Santa Monica Pier, California

David Newsom, Rylie comes home, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA

Irene Imfeld, Night Shift (1824), Berkeley

Leora Ben-David, Urban Fishing, Berlin, Germany

Joel Butler, Take My Yoke, A Tribute To My Father, Las Vegas, NV

Russell Joslin, Winter Light, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tom M Johnson, Place Saint Michel, Paris

Jennifer Georgescu, Sand, Stone, Dead Leaves & Bone, Nashville, TN, 2011

Jeff Phillips, Family at Overlook, Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2011

Ursula Sokolowska, Currency Exchange, Union Street, 2011, Chicago, IL

Cynthia Wood, Vintage Fashion Shoot with Madison, Lake Tahoe, CA

©Harvey Stein 2011, Protester, Occupy Wall Street, Zuccotti Park, NYC

Kathy Lovas, Still Life with Rocks, Santa Fe, NM

Daniel Grant, The Turn, San Francisco, CA

Stan Raucher, Linea 2 near Piazza Cavour, Naples

David Gardner, Larry and Dorothy, from Life on Wheels: The New American Nomads, Near Portland, OR

Qiana Mestrich, Bath, 2011, Brooklyn, NY

Doug Ness, Phone Book, Missoula, MT

Sylvia de Swaan, The Ticking Clock from Sub-Version Series, New York City and Utica, NY

Adrian Davis, Dogwood in Fog, Skyline Drive, Virginia, 2011

Suzanne Révy, Frog Pond, 2011, Carlisle, MA

Sandra L. Dyas, Katy, Queen of Her Garden, from Lost in the Midwest, Iowa City, Iowa 2011

Mimi Haddon, A Better Shade, Santa Monica,CA USA

Stéphane C., untitled (from the series "They never adopted the name for themselves"), Perpignan, France

Robert Schneider, Formerly, Arlington, MA

Laurie McCormick, Raisin, My home in Brentwood, CA

Dale Peart, Swirls in the Puddles #1, Ipswich, UK

Stephen Strom, South Desert, Cathedral Valley, Utah, 2011, from the portfolio: "Illusions of Intimacy", near Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Aaron Boot, A Moment, Grand Rapids, MI

Christine Zona Foto (zona foto), Cable Car, Kiev, Ukraine

Adina Ionescu-Muscel, Iulia, Atlanta, February 2011

Rick Kopstein, We Will Not Be Silent, Occupy Wall Street, Zuccotti Park, NYC

Shawn Tamaribuchi, Physique I, West Oakland, CA

D Kelly, In the Clouds, Leonia, NJ

Angela Marklew, Alyena (excerpt from editorial titled “Valerie and her Week of Wonders”), Switzer Falls, Angeles National Forest, CA

Grace Weston, Happy Hour, my Portland, OR studio

J. M. Golding, Longing from A Geography of Connection and Loss, San Francisco Bay Area

Paul Giguere, Livio, Salvador, and Annie, East Boston

Ryan Schude & Dan Busta, At the Inn, Baker, California

Enrique Ahumada, "God hates signs" from the series Ménage à Trois, Los Angeles

Willson Cummer, Color Field, Fayetteville, NY

Tami Bone, Ouija, my back porch, Austin, TX

Jim Robertson, Service to the Suntower, Osaka, Japan March 2011

Sara Jane Boyers, Return to Pinehurst Family Home on my Birthday: the Beginning of DETROIT: DEFINITION, Detroit, Michigan 20 January 2011

Robbie Kaye, Grace, Monty Roberts,Solvang, CA

Ulf Fågelhammar aka Mr Urbano, October Ice, Stockholm

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It's time for another look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today we have scenes of an elephant rescue in India, a loyal dog bidding a final farewell, a competitor in the Open Rabbit Sport Tournament, and a rather unfortunate moose discovered intoxicated and tangled in a tree. These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from the past several weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers. [44 photos]

A dog casts a long shadow in the morning in St. Petersburg, Russia, on September 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

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The Pictures of the Week is a collection of the best images from around the world as compiled by The Denver Post. This week’s images are from space and the funeral for a former first lady among other top stories.

A panoramic view provided by NASA was photographed from the International Space Station, looking past the docked space shuttle Atlantis’ cargo bay as the joint complex passed over the southern hemisphere. Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights can be seen on Earth’s horizon.

A military honor guard carries the casket of former first lady Betty Ford into her funeral at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California. Family and dignitaries, including first lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton attended the service at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church.

Japan players celebrate with the trophy after winning the final match between Japan and the United States at the Womenís Soccer World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, July 17, 2011. The Japanese women’s soccer team won their first World Cup Sunday after defeating USA in a penalty shoot-out.

 July 15, 2011

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In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, 20-year-old beekeeper Lu Kongjiang waves as bees cover his body during a contest against 42-year-old Wang Dalin, also a beekeeper, in Longhui County of Shaoyang City, central China's Hunan Province, Sunday, July 17, 2011. Wang finally won in the hour-long duel since 26 kilograms (57 pounds) of bees covered his body, Xinhua said. (AP Photo/Xinhua/Lu Jianshe) #

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In this July 14, 2011 photo, a reflection of Becky Petrehen's hot air balloon, named "Peaceful World," flies over a small body of water in Chillicothe, Ill. (AP Photo/Journal Star, Lauren Wood) #

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Male members of the Hugh and Anya Nguyen pose under Seward Johnson's 26-foot-tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, in her most famous wind-blown pose, on Michigan Ave. Friday, July 15, 2011 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) #

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POTOCARI, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - JULY 10: Two young Muslim women weep over one of 613 coffins of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in a hall at the Potocari cemetery and memorial near Srebrenica on July 10, 2011 in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The newly-identified remains of the 613 victims are scheuled to be buried in a ceremony to be held on July 11, the 16th anniversary of the massacre. At least 8,3000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys who had sought safe heaven at the U.N.-protected enclave at Srebrenica were killed by members of the Bosnian Serb army under the leadership of General Ratko Mladic, who is currently facing charges of war crimes in The Hague, during the Bosnian war in 1995. A Dutch court recently found the Dutch government responsible for the deaths of three of the victims when Dutch U.N. peacekeepers handed the three men, who had been working on the Dutch base in Srebrenica, over to Serbian soldiers. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #

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TOPSHOTS Bales of straw tagged with the nuclear sign by unknown people are seen on sunrise next to the mortorway Lausanne to Geneva, in Luins, Western Switzerland, on July 18, 2011. The Swiss parliament begun examining in June a government proposal to phase out the country's nuclear plants by 2034. A final decision will be made only in a few months' time through amendments of the legislation. AFP PHOTO/ FABRICE COFFRINI #

 July 15, 2011

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A military honor guard carries the casket of former first lady Betty Ford into her funeral at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church July 12, 2011 in Palm Desert, California. Family, dignitaries, including first lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton attended the service at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, during which former first lady Rosalynn Carter and journalist Cokie Roberts presented eulogies for the outspoken Ford, who will be buried alongside her husband, former President Gerald R. Ford, in Grand Rapids, Michigan following a second service July 14. (Photo by Jae C. Hong-Pool/Getty Images) #

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Indian Railway workers remove debris of a derailed passenger train, near Bhatkuchi, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Gauhati, India Monday, July 11, 2011. Four coaches of the Guwahati-Puri Express derailed following a possible explosion, local police and railway sources said. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) #

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Indian train passengers crowd into an over-packed train traveling to the eastern state of Bihar, from the railway station in New Delhi, India, Monday, July 11, 2011. Many trains were canceled from leaving the Indian capital after the Kalka Mail passenger train derailed and crashed Sunday in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

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The pack rides during the 11th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 167.5 kilometers (104.8 miles) starting in Blaye les Mines and finishing in Lavaur, south central France, Wednesday July 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #

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A group of Sri Lankan young Buddhist monks parade, seeking alms in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, July 13, 2011. In Buddhism, giving of alms is the beginning of one's journey to Nirvana, the state of perfect bliss.(AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena) #

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This panoramic view provided by NASA was photographed from the International Space Station, looking past the docked space shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay and part of the station including a solar array panel toward Earth, was taken on July 14, 2011 as the joint complex passed over the southern hemisphere. Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights can be seen on Earth's horizon and a number of stars are visible also. (AP Photo/NASA) #

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Fireworks illuminate the Eiffel Tower in Paris during Bastille Day celebrations late Thursday, July 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) #

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Schooners pass the Rockland Breakwater Light during the Parade of Sail, Friday, July 15, 2011, in Rockland, Maine. The parade is part of the festivities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the windjamming industry. The tall ships, which now carry paying customers, originally carried fish, granite and lumber prior to the advent of steamships and trains. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) #

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A girl waves her wet skirt in an effort to dry it up near her family laundry hung on a fence on a riverside in Beijing, China, Friday, July 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) #

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Japan players celebrate with the trophy after winning the final match between Japan and the United States at the Women’s Soccer World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, July 17, 2011. The Japanese women's soccer team won their first World Cup Sunday after defeating USA in a penalty shoot-out. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) #

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Fans cheer the Japanese team playing with the United States in their Women’s Soccer World Cup final match, at the Rooney2008 sports bar in Tokyo Monday morning, July 18, 2011. Japan became the first Asian nation to win the Women's World Cup on Sunday, July 17 in Frankfurt, Germany. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) #

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A woman prays next to the grave of her relative at the Potocari memorial cemetery near Srebrenica, some 160 kilometers east of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Saturday, July 9, 2011. A burial ceremony for 614 victims will be held on Monday, July 11, 2011 in Potocari, on the 16th anniversary of the Srebrenica tragedy when in 1995 Bosnian Serb forces stormed the enclave and systematically killed thousands of Bosnian Muslims. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic) #

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Spanish bull fighter Alberto Aguilar looks at a Dolores Aguirre Ybarra's ranch fighting bull during a bullfight at San Fermin fiestas in Pamplona northern Spain, Saturday July 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) #

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Japan's Yukiko Inui and Chisa Kobayashi compete in the technical duets preliminary round synchronised swimming competition in the FINA World Championships at the natatorium of the Oriental Sports Center, in Shanghai, on July 17, 2011. AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS #

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This picture taken on June 15, 2011 shows Buddhist novice monk and aspiring ladyboy Pipop Thanajindawong (C) getting a twice-monthly head shave in a backyard of the Wat Kreung Tai temple, in Thailand's northern border town of Chiang Khong. The Kreung Tai temple has run a course to teach masculinity to boys who are "katoeys", the Thai term for transsexuals or ladyboys, aged between 11 and 18 since 2008. AFP PHOTO/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT #

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Interstate 405 is completely free of traffic, seen looking southbound from the Skirball Drive bridge, in preparation for the demolition of the Mulholland Drive bridge, just after midnight early Saturday morning, July 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) #

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Army personnel burn marijuana plants at a plantation discovered near San Quintin, Baja California state, Mexico, Friday, July 15, 2011. Soldiers have found the largest marijuana plantation ever detected in Mexico, a huge field covering almost 300 acres (120 hectares), covered by shaded netting, the Defense Department said Thursday. The plantation is four times larger than the previous record discovery by authorities at a ranch in northern Chihuahua state in 1984. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini) #

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A long exposure photo shows the light trails of candles held by Buddhists as they walk around a statue to give homage Buddha during Asaha Bucha Day at Buddhamonthon, a suburb of Bangkok on July 15, 2011. Asaha Bucha is one of the most important festivals in the Buddhist calendar and celebrates the occasion of the first sermon given by the Lord Buddha. AFP PHOTO / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL #

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Students throw stones to a riot police tear gas truck during a protest against the government of President Sebastian Pinera and a new education law, in Santiago on July 14, 2011. Thursday, July 14, 2011. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images #

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Riot police arrest a student protesting against the government of President Sebastian Pinera and a new education law, in the surroundings of the presidential palace La Moneda, in Santiago on July 14, 2011. CLAUDIO SANTANA/AFP/Getty Images #

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President Barack Obama shakes the prosthetic hand of U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Leroy Arthur Petry of Santa Fe, N.M., who received the Medal of Honor for his valor in Afghanistan in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Petry lost his right hand as he tossed aside a live grenade during a 2008 firefight in Afghanistan, sparing the lives of his fellow Army Rangers. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) #

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Two-year-old, Aden Salaad, looks up toward his mother, unseen, as she bathes him in a tub at a Doctors Without Borders hospital, where Aden is receiving treatment for malnutrition, in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

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A crowd of spectators cram against a fence of a soccer stadium in South Sudan's capital Juba in an effort to watch their country's soccer national squad play their first international football game on July 10, 2011. South Sudan became independent from the Sudan on 09 July and became the newest country on earth. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

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An Indian farmer pick up paddy saplings for planting in a rice paddy on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Monday, July 18, 2011.The annual monsoon season from June to October brings rains that are vital to agriculture in India. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) #

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American artist Lee Price paints photographs of women and food. Working with her photographer Tom Moore, the images are painstakingly reproduced using oil on linen canvas’ to create a soft milky tenderness to a series of works exploring the deeper aspects of feminine nature. In this line of work, Lee develops her ideas by focusing on the nurturing traits conditioned in women to look after the needs of others before tending to their own. Continuing her observation of feminine conditions through this singular technique, Lee talked to Dazed Digital about the process…

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