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.