FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Julio Salgado, [email protected]
Art Projects Manager, CultureStrike
“VISIONS FROM THE INSIDE ILLUSTRATES THE COURAGEOUS STORIES OF DETAINED MIGRANTS AT THE KARNES DETENTION CENTER”
OAKLAND, CA CultureStrike, a national arts organization, is releasing illustrations based on letters written by detained women and children at the for-profit detention center in Karnes County, Texas, in collaboration with Mariposas Sin Fronteras and End Family Detention. These visual art interpretations created by a diverse lineup of 15 visual artists from across the U.S. will highlight the realities that migrants are experiencing inside of detention facilities, what led them to migrate away from their home countries, and the resiliency of the human spirit.
Participating artist include Breena Nuñez (NY), Dolly Li (CA), Favianna Rodriguez (CA), Fidencio Martinez (IA), Gabrielle Tesfaye (NY), Jess X Chen (CA), Julio Salgado (CA), Mata Ruda (NY), Micah Bazant (NY), Robert Trujillo (CA) and many more.
In the last couple of years the United States has seen a “surge” of Central American migrants (with a noticeable spike in unaccompanied minors) fleeing violence in their home countries.
Those who survive the dangerous trek from Central America, through Mexico, and all the way to the U.S./Mexico border are often apprehended by Border Patrol and placed in detention where they are held for months at a time, often with little to no legal counsel, while they wait to see whether they will be allowed an opportunity to stay in the United States with their families.
Unfortunately, for many, this journey often ends in deportation back to the country from which they were escaping. These painful letters describe the violence migrant detainee mothers and other individuals endured and witnessed on their journey, as well as the terrible conditions they experience while in immigration custody.
While families have to deal with the physical and mental abuse that comes with being incarcerated, companies such as Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group, Inc., profit from the detention of human beings. According to the Detention Watch Network, revenues and stock prices for companies that run correctional and detention facilities are skyrocketing.
These centers basically isolate detainees and limit their access to connecting with loved ones since phone calls are costprohibitive and visitation is unlikely based on the location of these centers as well as other immigration status barriers. As such, letter writing is one of the few ways that detained migrants can communicate to the outside world. For the Visions from the Inside project, CultureStrike commissioned 15 artists and shared a letter with them to serve as inspiration for their visual pieces. Throughout the project artists received feedback from the authors of these letters, via their attorneys, in order to ensure that the illustrations stayed true to their stories. This was part of CultureStrike’s intentional effort to include as much of the voices of the detainees as well as create a quality piece of art.
“I chose images of mothers holding children because I remember how it felt to be placed in I.C.E detention,” states Iowa-based artist Fidencio Martinez about the piece he created for this project. “All I wanted [when I was in detention], was the comfort of my mother and I think that [detained] women are incredibly brave, strong and noble in those situations. They are still fighting for the safety and wellbeing of their children.”
We need a world without borders and detention centers! In the meantime, artists and migrants across the globe will continue to imagine the possibilities through culture and action.
CultureStrike is a national organization that empowers artists and social justice movements to dream big, disrupt the status quo, and envision a truly just world rooted in shared humanity through art. We believe cultural work is key to creating systemic change.
Mariposas Sin Fronteras is a Tucson, AZ based group that seeks to end the systemic violence and abuse of LGBTQ people held in prison and immigration detention.
End Family Detention is a digital library composed by a network of families, volunteers, pro bono lawyers, social justice organizers, and digital activists dedicated to raising awareness and promoting action to end family detention.