Healing and (Re)Building Connection Through Art

Beginning April 25 through May 31, visitors to the UCI Langson Library will have an opportunity to see Healing and (Re)Building Connection Through Art, a student art exhibit featuring works inspired by travel to Mexico as part of a fall course on undocumented immigrant experiences taught by Laura E. Enriquez, UCI associate professor of Chicano/Latino studies. The trip was the fourth organized by Enriquez in collaboration with the Building Binational Bridges program and the UCI DREAM Center, and supported by the UC Alianza Mx, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, UCI Study Abroad Center, the Center for Educational Partnerships, and other campus resources.

While in Mexico, the students and researchers participated in a convening that included sessions with Otros Dreams en Acción (ODA), a community-based organization in Mexico that supports the returnee and deportee community. There, they created individual and collective artwork, met individuals who were deported or returned, and explored how international mobility impacts individuals’ identities and feelings of belonging. They also conducted autoethnographic fieldwork documenting their experiences before, during and after the trips. The program was recently recognized as a finalist for The Forum on Education Abroad’s Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design.

“The exhibit merges our stories of growing up in immigration-impacted families and traveling together to Mexico,” says Enriquez. “For most, it was the first time in decades that they had been to Mexico because of exclusionary immigration policies that affect them and their family.”

Over the past four months, she and eleven students have been working together to produce artwork, including poetry, collages, and digital printmaking. The student art exhibit will feature the artistic documentation of the impact this experience had on attendees and their continued collaboration with members of ODA.

“It’s really nice to exhibit my work in a space that aligns with my values and my identities,” says participant Kitana Carbajal Juarez, a UCI art major.

For some students, participating in the project and creating the exhibit also fostered a sense of community, support, and opportunities for healing.

Another participant, Giovanna Itzel, UCI political science Ph.D. student, says, “This project provided us space to share our experiences and form community with each other that for many of us has been hard to achieve in academia. I’m especially thankful to Dr. Enriquez who provided various avenues to navigate our own healing journeys through.”

RSVP for a reception and conversation with contributors that will take place Thursday Apr 25, 2024, 4:00-7:00 p.m.: https://forms.gle/fSHWNd4B6BbkiaWc9

Visit the exhibit through May 31 on the second floor of Langson Library.

Learn more about the trip that sparked this creative exhibit: https://www.socsci.uci.edu/newsevents/news/2024/2024-01-09-reuniting-abroad.php   

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