“Visions from the Inside” Illustrates the Courageous Stories of Detained Migrants in the US

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Illustration by Zeke Peña

From July 27 through August 14, 2015, CultureStrike, a national pro­migrant arts organization, released illustrations based on letters written by detained women and children at the for­-profit immigration detention center in Karnes County, Texas (U.S.), in collaboration with the advocacy groups ​Mariposas Sin Fronteras ​and End Family Detention​.​ “Visions from the Inside” are visual art interpretations created by a diverse line­up of 15 visual artists from across the U.S. that highlight the realities that migrants are experiencing inside of detention facilities, what led them to migrate away from their home countries, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

While the detention centers isolate detainees and limit their access to connecting with loved ones, letter writing is one of the few ways that detained migrants can communicate to the outside world, and artists were able to use letters collected and published by ​ End Family Detention​ as a source of inspiration​. CultureStrike contacted 15 artists and shared an individual letter with them. Each illustration is a collaborative effort between the artist and the individual in detention. Throughout the project artists received feedback from some of the authors of these letters, via their attorneys, in order to ensure that the illustrations stayed true to their stories.

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Illustration by Fidencio Martinez

“I chose images of mothers holding children because I remember how it felt to be placed in I.C.E detention. All I wanted [when I was in detention], was the comfort of my mother and I think that [detained] women are incredibly brave, strong and noble in those situations. They are still fighting for the safety and well­-being of their children.” –Iowa­-based artist Fidencio Martinez about the piece he created for this project.

We need a world without borders and detention centers! In the meantime, artists and migrants across the globe will continue to imagine the possibilities through culture and action.

View the illustrations and artists’ statements here

This artwork will also be featured at the United Nations in Geneva on September 8th.

Participating artists include Breena Nuñez (NY), Dolly Li (CA), Favianna Rodriguez (CA), Fidencio Martinez (IA), Gabrielle Tesfaye (NY), Jess X Chen (CA), Julio Salgado (CA), Mata Ruda (NY), Micah Bazant (CA), Robert Trujillo (CA) and many more.

*This is an excerpt from CultureStrike’s Press Release. Read the full Press Release here

CultureStrike​ is a national organization that empowers artists and social justice movements to dream big, disrupt the status quo, and envision a truly just world rooted in shared humanity through art. We believe cultural work is key to creating systemic change.

End Family Detention​ is a digital library composed by a network of families, volunteers, pro bono lawyers, social justice organizers, and digital activists dedicated to raising awareness and promoting action to end family detention.

Mariposas Sin Fronteras ​is a Tucson, AZ based group that seeks to end the systemic violence and abuse of LGBTQ people held in prison and immigration detention.