Even though we have very different backgrounds, come from different places and hold differing beliefs, there is sameness in our diversity. We often feel divided and isolated, and we offer myriad reasons for this isolation: race, class, politics, religion, gender, economics, birthplace and more. James Baldwin said: “The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.” I want my images to seek those hidden questions.
In this series, Us Against the Wall, I photograph immigrants against graphic backgrounds of walls to bring attention to the victims of the United States government’s current war against immigrants. The faces of the undocumented are hidden, as they are photographed from the back, highlighting how invisible they must be in the present moment. Citizens and documented immigrants faces are shown.
I see this work as part of an approach to portraiture in the service of social engagement. It is born of a need to protect the undocumenteds’ invisibility while making them very visible; to reveal the government’s actions as an attempted theft of identity. Faces remain hidden and intimate portraits emerge through subtle body angles, wrinkles in clothing, hairstyles, a head tilt, a battered backpack, a tattoo, a hand gesture.
My artistic goal is to break down the barriers and strengthen our communities. As someone who accompanies immigrants to their ICE check-ins, I see the United State’s government tearing apart families and creating fearful communities. I create these images because I believe we must build human connections between the undocumented and the rest if we are to tear down the walls that divide us.