Arizona immigration law inspires art exhibit

La Ruta/ The Route by Wendy Willis (print)

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
August 7, 2010 8:13 a.m. EDT

Phoenix, Arizona (CNN) — The flag of Arizona, skeletons and the Statue of Liberty are just some of the images evoked by a group of artists to give life to their views on Arizona’s new immigration law.

The collection of prints, sculptures, paintings and photographs are featured in the traveling exhibit, “SB1070: An Artist’s Point of View,” which opened at the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center in Phoenix the weekend before the law took effect on July 29.

The show will move to galleries throughout Arizona and across the country in an effort to educate the public on how artists from the state that has become ground zero in the immigration debate perceive the matter, said the show’s organizer.

“This educational exhibit was born from the thought that there has to be a different way of reaching people’s hearts on this issue,” said Annie Loyd, founder and CEO of The FUSION Foundation, which organized the exhibit in collaboration with the cultural center.

Who's the Illegal Now? by Francisco Garcia

“This show is not a protest show,” she said. “This was truly meant to be something that evokes people’s emotions, that allows you to work your way into the art and really consider what’s going on.”

The show took shape quickly after its conceptualization in a marketing meeting in early June. A call to artists in Arizona for contributions was quickly met with more submissions than the show could hold, prompting its organizers to rotate pieces each time the show moves to a new space.

In their works, the artists bring their personal history and experiences with immigration in Arizona — a divisive issue in the border state long before SB1070 brought it under the national microscope.

“My mother was undocumented, my father born in Texas, and she feared immigration all her life, even after she became a citizen,” said Martin Moreno, whose painting, Born in the USA, depicts the wake of a son of a Mexican-born wife and American husband.

“She never went back to Mexico, and that same scenario has played over thousands of times. Even today, my son is in the same situation. He is a citizen and my daughter-in-law is undocumented. History repeats itself,” he said.

Moreno describes his piece as “a portrait of a family sharing two cultures,” with the father in his National Guardsman uniform, and the mother in traditional Mexican garb, lighting a candle of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

“The piece tries to address that many couples have a foot in two worlds,” he said, “and that hasn’t changed in my lifetime.”

Born in the USA by Martin Moreno

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