Life After the Border – Through Courageous Eyes

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Through Courageous Eyes - Refugee Artists
The Through Courageous Eyes blog series features migrant and refugee artists and is curated by Cecilia Pessoa, LIRS Digital Communications Assistant.

What comes después de la frontera, “after the border”?

When a child or teenager flees from home, manages to avoid gangs and survive trekking through wilderness, and makes it though the ice-cold holding cells of police custody, what comes next?

How can we try to understand these traumatizing experiences?

The Después de la Frontera/After the Border exhibit at the Creative Alliance, a Baltimore-based arts and education non-profit, delves into these questions by bringing eight artists together to honor the stories of unaccompanied youth from Central America and their families living in Baltimore.

A family looks at photographs at Despues de la Frontera exhibit, produced by Creative Alliance.
A family looks at photographs at Despues de la Frontera exhibit, produced by Creative Alliance.

The over 51,000 unaccompanied minors who came to the United States last year from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras made an impact in our country and in local communities. Many youth have reunited with family members here in the Baltimore area.

About a year ago, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and the Creative Alliance began collaborating to create a traveling multimedia exhibit that would speak to these youth’s past, their journeys, and their experiences in U.S. communities. Some have received legal status to remain and some still wait to make their cases before judges, but all live with the weight of the violence, threats, or poverty that caused them to flee their home countries.

Composite photography depicting immigration and deportation.
Part of the triptych depicting the effects of immigration and deportation on artist’s family. Después de la Frontera was produced by Creative Alliance.

The exhibit includes a triptych of images composed of photographs superimposed upon each other. The composite photographs tell of the impact that immigration and deportation have had on generations in the artist’s own family.

A video created by Tanya Garcia, the exhibit’s curator, highlights a few of the youth who have come to the Baltimore area after fleeing from their homes in Central America. The effect of the threats they experienced and violence they witnessed is still powerfully evident. No full faces are shown, only lips speaking, backlit views, or eyes full of emotion. Though they have succeeded in reaching their family members in the United States, the past remains with them.

Unaccompanied minor behind a border fence.
A piece by Michelle Ortiz. Después de la Frontera was produced by Creative Alliance.

Después de la Frontera will be on display until September 22, 2015 at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore. For details on the exhibit, to schedule a free group tour, or information about related events, please visit the Después de la Frontera events page.

Find all the previous posts in the Through Courageous Eyes series.

If you would like to showcase your artwork as part of the Through Courageous Eyes series, please contact Cecilia Pessoa at CPessoa@lirs.org.

Banner photo credit: Johanan Ottensooser

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