Interview with Michelle Angela Ortiz about the “Familias Separadas” public art project in Pennsylvania

Interview with Michelle Angela Ortiz about the “Familias Separadas” public art project in Pennsylvania

Yesterday, Iris from Xica Media/Xica Nation sat down with award-winning artist and muralist Michelle Angela Ortiz to discuss her latest public mural project “Familias Separadas” which focuses on the experiences of separated and imprisoned families and children in Pennsylvania, some as young as 9 weeks old.

We talked about the importance of public art, working with communities in crisis in a way that includes them in every part of the process, and how Pennsylvania is on the front lines of the family detention and separation crisis despite being 1.8k+ miles from the southern border.

“Familias Separadas” Project at the Capitol in Harrisburg, PA

 

“Familias Separadas” covers Capitol Steps in Harrisburg, PA

October 25th- November 9th, 2018 Capitol Steps,  N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 

My “Familias Separadas” public art project focuses on amplifying the stories of families directly impacted by deportations and detention in Pennsylvania.

I am excited to share the unveiling of phase 2 of my eight large-scale public artworks that features the messages and images of 4 out of 14 mothers that were detained for over 600 days at the Berks family prison in Pennsylvania.

The image of Karen and her son Steven is featured on the capitol steps. After being  detained for 651 days and surviving 2 suicide attempts from her son, they both were then deported back to El Salvador. My intention for this work was to bring back her message and make her so large that she cannot be ignored by the people in power. 

 

Project Map and Mural in Allison Hill

1317 Derry Street, Harrisburg, PA

I completed a permanent 35′ mural in Harrisburg that represents the image of Delmy and her son who were detained for 654 days. The mural resides in Allison Hill, a neighborhood that has been targeted with ICE raids within these past few years. I felt that it was necessary to place an image here that is uplifting and a reminder of our collective resilience and strength. 

From October 24th- November 18th, you can see this mural and the other large-scale public art installations which include several 40′ billboards, bus shelters and the large installation at the Capitol steps.

 

Listen to the Mothers featured in the “Familias Separadas” project

Since March 2017, I have been connecting with the mothers while they were detained and after their release from the Berks family prison. Listen to excerpts from their interviews that inspired the artwork for the “Familias Separadas” project. 

 

Featured Interview on Monument LAB

I had the pleasure of sharing the stories behind my work through the Monument Lab podcast. I am honored to be featured in this podcast along with other artists including Hank Willis Thomas, Stephanie Syjuco, and Kirk Savage.  Hear about how the “Familias Separadas” project came to be.

 
 

Featured in For Freedoms

Several billboards in my “Familias Separadas” are featured in the For Freedoms nationwide initiative. Founded in 2016 by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is a platform for creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action.  In 2018, For Freedoms launched the 50 State Initiative: the largest creative collaboration in U.S. history.

 

Featured Press

View the current press coverage on the “Familias Separadas” project:

The Burg Magazine

Billy Penn

WHYY

 
 

Take Action!

On Saturday, November 3rd, my artwork served as a visual platform for the statewide community action against family detention led by my community partner, the Shut Down Berks Coalition. Over 100 people marched from the Capitol steps to Allison Hill to demand that the Berks family prison be shut down. Click below to learn how to take action and support.

 

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Iris Rodriguez is an Artivist / Author / Digital Strategist / Network Producer at Xica Media. If you enjoy the work we do, please donate to sponsor/support Xica Nation and Xica Media networks: http://paypal.me/xicamedia

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