Jesus Barraza is an activist and printmaker based in San Leandro, California. Using bold colors and high contrast images, his prints reflect both his local and global community and their resistance in a struggle to create a new world. Barraza has worked closely with numerous community organizations to create prints that visualize struggles for immigration rights, housing, education, and international solidarity. Printmaking has allowed Barraza to produce relevant images that can be put back into the hands of his community and spread throughout the world. He believes that through this work and the work of Dignidad Rebelde, he is playing a role in keeping the history of graphic art activism alive.
Barraza’s print was inspired by King Chango’s cover of Sting’s “Englishman in New York”, which was changed to “Venezuelan in New York”. “The print reflects the violence that immigrants deal with while entering and living in the United States; the harsh reality that comes with making the journey North to the country that promises work to those who can no longer survive in their homelands,” Barraza said.
Oscar Magallanes was raised in an Azusa, CA barrio. His artwork is influenced by the cultural and social elements of his upbringing. After a troubled youth, at the age of fifteen Magallanes was accepted into the Ryman Arts program, which he credits with encouraging him to become a professional artist. To date, Magallanes has had over 100 exhibitions, six of which were solo. He has also served as a board member for Ryman Arts, Self Help Graphics and Art, and he is a member of the Inner-City Arts Young Professionals Advisory Board. He continues to create and exhibit his artwork from his studio in Lincoln Heights.
Magallanes has spent many years painting the ubiquitous street vendor or the man selling fruit on the corner, the very same people he says have been scapegoated as “parasites sucking the economy dry. We are told this as we watch the bank bailouts. At least the street vendor is actually moving a product and puts money right back into the economy,” Magallanes said. “We need to think about the fair and equal treatment of all individuals, especially those who embody the American dream of coming to the U.S. to flee poverty and persecution, which is usually the result of failed U.S. foreign policy.”
Kristine Virsis is a printmaker currently living and working in New York. Her silkscreen prints, which begin as intricate paper-cuts and stencils, deal with the personal end of the political spectrum - creativity, self-sufficiency, nostalgia, as well as mental health and resiliency. She is a member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative.
Virsis’ piece was inspired by a woman named Adama Bah, whose story she learned of through friend and filmmaker David Felix Suttecliffe and his documentary titled “Adama”. Virsis met with Adama to learn her story. She was arrested in 2005 at the age of 16 and endured many subsequent years of struggle coping with the trauma that ICE inflicted on her and her family. “Knowing how U.S. immigration policy and practice affects real people by hearing their personal stories is crucial to understanding the broad picture of immigration reform,” Virsis said.
Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, Felipe Baeza currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received his BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. His work has been featured in New York’s The New School, the International Print Center, and Meyerson Hall Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the recipient of the Michael S. Vivo Prize for Drawing and Keyholder Resident at the Lower East Side Printshop.
The undocumented youth movement has taken inspiration from the LGBTQ rights movement in encouraging undocumented youth to come out. “We’re queer undocumented youth, we can no longer afford to be in the closet either as gay or undocumented,” Baeza said. “We can no longer hide. We have the right to express our sexuality; we have right to remain here.” I have the right to feel human because I have the right to feel free in the country I call my home.” Baeza’s sense that heterosexual identity is a prerequisite to the pursuit of US citizenship has led him to assert that there is an inherent allegiance between the goals of the movements for both LGBTQ and immigrant rights, and that both are part of a larger struggle for universal human rights.
Roger Peet is an artist and printmaker currently living in Portland, Oregon. His work tends to focus on issues of ecology and violence, and on relations between the human and non-human realms. He is a member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and of Flight 64 printmaking studio.
Peet’s piece was inspired by his current obsession with the “apocalyptic carnage” of the cartel wars in Mexico, and the ways in which the violence has extended its reach into arcane corners of the natural and cultural world. “The cartels that have emerged to satisfy the stupendous level of U.S. drug demand have become some of the most terrifying purveyors of black magic and ritual butchery the world has ever known, and both the forests and peoples of Mexico and Central America are cut down before them,” Peet said. “Directly responsible for their rise are the hypocritical and racist policies that see drug use as personal delinquency instead of as an integral part of an exploitative economic superstructure. The nations of Central America have concluded that the drug war is a failure and they are moving towards decriminalization. Hopefully the U.S. will move before the mass graves are filled to the brim.”
Melanie Cervantes aims to translate the hopes and dreams of justice movements into images that are life affirming and inspire people to take action. She is best known for her prolific production of political screen prints and posters. Employing vibrant colors and hand-drawn illustrations, her work moves those viewed as marginal to the center, featuring powerful youth, elders, women, and queer and indigenous peoples. With her partner and fellow printmaker Jesus Barraza, she formed Dignidad Rebelde, a collaborative graphic arts project that translates stories of struggle and resistance into artwork that can be put back into the hands of the communities who inspire it. Cervantes has also partnered with Detention Watch Network to create a graphic campaign that will raise awareness about the impact mandatory detention has on communities and society as a whole.
This poster features Nazry Mustakim and his wife Hope. Mustakim, a 31-year-old green card holder from Singapore, was held in immigration detention for 10 months at the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Texas. Due to laws passed in 1996, Mustakim’s prior drug conviction subjected him to mandatory detention, which meant that he could not be released on bond. After 10 months of hardship and unrelenting advocacy by Hope, his family, and community, he has been released from detention and is back home. Mustakim’s story is exemplary of the injustices immigrants face in detention every day.
Claude Moller is a community organizer and mixed media artist who specializes in printmaking, mural art, and guerrilla PR. He is based in San Francisco, CA.
The piece “Deported for Jaywalking” was originally designed in 2011 for the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee (SFIRDC), an alliance of immigrant rights advocates working to curb San Francisco youth deportations and stop the Secure Communities program, also known as S-Comm. S-Comm is a federal dragnet created by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to automatically investigate, detain, and deport undocumented citizens who have been arrested. “Deported for Jaywalking” was wheatpasted throughout San Francisco to publicize the SFIRDC and the design was reproduced on t-shirts worn by hundreds of SFIRDC activists during Bay Area demonstrations against S-Comm.
Santiago Armengod is an activist and artist who lives in Mexico, where he takes part in several collectives seeking social/political/environmental justice. His art is inspired by the work individuals and collectives do to free themselves of the noose around their necks. He is part of the`Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and Escuela de Cultura Popular Martires del 68.
Armengod’s piece poses an important question: If global capital has free access across borders, why can’t human beings as well? “Millions of people migrate to first world countries seeking a more stable economy after their own regions have been stripped of economic means by the so-called developed world through free-trade treaties such as NAFTA,” Armengod said. “Immigrants are constantly targeted for violent attacks and as scapegoats for a lack of jobs and a decaying global economy, using xenophobia and racism to justify class inequities. Borders do not only affect populations of the third world, but have a negative impact on us all- plants, animals, and human beings of all ethnic background and nationalities. So end deportations now, tear down your borders.”
Emory Douglas is a self-taught artist whose only professional training came from majoring in commercial art while attending City College of San Francisco in the 1960’s; all other art experience came from on-the-job training. Douglas was the Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture for The Black Panther Party from 1967-1981. He has had major exhibitions of his artwork in the U.S. and abroad and his work has been in major films, documentaries and publications worldwide. Douglas’ retrospective art book Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas was published by Rizzoli International in February of 2007 and has since been published in Japanese. Douglas continues to exhibit his work and lecture nationwide.
“Toxic Waste” highlights the toxic, racist nature of extreme anti-immigration policy and how it spreads nationwide.
Julio Salgado is the co-founder of DreamersAdrift.com and his activist artwork has become a staple of the DREAM Act movement. His status as an undocumented, queer ‘artivist’ has fueled the contents of his illustrations, which depict key individuals and moments of the DREAM Act movement. Undocumented students and allies across the country have used Salgado’s artwork to call attention to youth-led movements and his work has been praised by OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano, KPCC-FM 89.3’s Multi-American blog, and the influential journal ColorLines. Salgado graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a degree in journalism.
Salgado’s image captures the one thing he believes keeps undocumented immigrants sane: their love for each other. “With words like illegal’ and ‘alien’, undocumented immigrants in this country are often dehumanized and the media doesn’t help by constantly portraying us as either criminals or perfect little immigrants,” Salgado said. “There is never a middle ground. I wanted this image to show the intersectionality of queer and immigrant communities by showcasing queer couples. After all, queer couples do not have the same rights as heterosexual couples.”