A review of “INMigration: Beyond Borders, a Visual Journey,” presented by the Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture
Although labeled with the dreaded taboo of “off-campus,” the Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture is well worth the trip for true art lovers. Its most recent theme of exhibits, “INMigration,”—a combination of ‘in migration’ and ‘immigration’—showcases artwork inspired by Latino migration.
The goal of the exhibit is to present the mindset of an immigrant through artwork, portraying the obstacles and harsh conditions one encounters in his transition into the United States. A central component of overcoming these obstacles is faith, a theme present in much of the artwork on display.
One of the most fascinating works of art on display is a woodcut by Juan de Dios Mora called “En la Mira de esos demonios Devoradores,” which translates to “In the watch of the devouring Demons.” The piece shows a fierce creature that is a combination of a horse, dog, eagle, hog and shark. This intimidating animal holds in front of his face a small rope with an apple on the end, apparently enticing the viewer. A small fence stands between the viewer and the creature, apparently showing that the difficulty in coming to the US is not physically entering the country, but rather adapting to American life and maintaining culture all with the dream of a better life in view.
Another work, a digital print by Delilah Montoya entitled “El Guadolupona,” shows a man in prison whose back was the focus of the piece. Covering the man’s entire back is a tattoo of the Virgin Mary with her hands together in prayer. Below the tattoo, the man’s hands are also together, only his are together in handcuffs.
Likewise, a small etching called “Transitions,” a collage pencil work showing dozens of small figures, represents the arduous journey to the United States. Guns, helicopters, sharks, handcuffs and water mold together in this sketch in a sort of haze, most likely symbolizing the confused and fearful mindset of immigrants on their trek.
“La Marcha de Lape Liberty,” a screen print created in 2006 by Tony Ortega, features several faceless immigrants waving the American flag, marching into the US under the Statue of Liberty. Interestingly, Lady Liberty stands on the back of an immigrant in the background.
Two pieces were also taken from a series of 6 images made by Ramiro Rodriguez. His intention with the series, he told the Rover, is to “[juxtapose] the image with quotes from the Bible.” His first artwork, “Just a Minute,” shows an immigrant farmer reclining against a tree on a hot day. This was inspired by a real event in which an immigrant worker died after a long day’s work. The text under the image reads, “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).
Rodriguez’s second artwork, “Fallecio el Señor Urbano,” shows a portrait of an immigrant, and beneath is it the verse, “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native born” (Leviticus 19:34).
Rodriguez’s artwork is part of the larger movement in Latino art, Borrando la Raya, or “Erasing the Line.” Additionally, his artwork runs through a studio called “Consejo Gráfico” which is a group of independent print studios that has formed to advance the legacy of Latino artwork.
The works selected for the INMigration art show present a fascinating exploration of faith and the journey to the United States. Through the art, viewers may see the complexity of the way immigrants understand their journey across the border and their hope for a new life.
Tommy enjoys writing articles on important issues and going to movies alone, not always by choice. Contact him at email@example.com.