In the coming days, you’re going to hear a lot about immigration reform–from the usual people: the politicians, the think tanks, the right-wing radio personalities and television pundits–all breathlessly airing opinions on how to fix immigration. Amid the polemical din, we ask you to pause for a moment, tune out the political chatter, and focus on what you see around you: the people who form your community, the nameless and faceless workers who keep your neighborhood running, the mothers and fathers who build their lives quietly, whose voices don’t carry in the echo chamber of Washington. And if you can start to visualize that, to imagine what those folks would say to people in power if they had a chance, then take a look at what an emerging movement of artists has been doing to make their voices heard in a different medium.
Migration Now is a nationwide visual arts collaboration, led by CultureStrike and the JustSeeds Artist Collective, aimed at raising consciousness about immigration issues and the imperative for just and equitable change to the nation’s immigration system. Unlike the noisy polemics you’re going to hear in Washington about “securing the border” or putting undocumented immigrants on the “back of the line” for citizenship or granting temporary relief to one group or another, we let these powerful images speak for themselves. And we leave it to you to spread the word about the fundamental human rights and social justice issues that should be at the heart of the debate.
The collection consists of 37 works of political art created by 38 artists, all produced in response to the developments in the immigrant rights and pro-migrant movements of the past year. This diverse group of artists includes: former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas, Undocumented DREAM Act agitators Julio Salgado and Felipe Baeza, Chinese American visual artist and designer Imin Yeh, author and printmaker Josh MacPhee, and renowned street artist, El Mac. Together they represent the myriad visions, aspirations and lived realities of many creative communities, from the street art scene to organized labor to political comics to historical traditions of agit-prop from around the world.
When people move, they are either going toward their families and communities, or more often, away from them. The artists in this project believe that migration is about our fundamental right to move freely in search of our fullest and best selves. Migration is a central crisis of our time, and we as artists believe that we can help shape the dialogue about this, promoting compassion and humanity.
To view the full collection and to read individual artist’s statements about their work, visit MigrationNow.com. You’ll also find information on how to purchase and use these prints in your community, so you can support the creative workers who, with humor and conviction, have documented and in many cases personally struggled through these issues from the ground up.
You can also read CultureStrike’s 2012 interview with Ray Hernandez about his poster depicting the Dreamer movement. And learn more about Favianna Rodriguez and her work with these artists in the I Am Other documentary, Migration is Beautiful.