Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ask an Artist! Out of the Shadows: Undocumented and Unafraid

Out of the Shadows: Undocumented and Unafraid is a participatory art project, conceived and orchestrated by artist Annabel Manning. Immigrant youth from Charlotte and the Triangle area of North Carolina collaborated with Manning to create portraits, which were then digitally altered to portray the youth's visible and invisible status simultaneously.  Compelling and personal, the pieces featured in the exhibit demonstrate how art can be a deliberative and imaginative forum for exploring complex issues about immigrant labor, education, and legal status.

Please meet artist and activist, Annabel Manning

What impact do you hope “Out of the Shadows” will have on the public?
I hope that the artwork in Out of the Shadows: Undocumented and Unafraid will show the public how it feels to be in this state of being invisible and without rights. 

I am also interested in the complicity that all the documented (myself included) should feel for the predicament of the undocumented because we are partially responsible for it. I believe all U.S. citizens are complicit because we are benefiting from the work and culture of the Latinos and because, directly or indirectly, we help to make or keep them invisible. My hope is that the public will develop a sense of responsibility for this issue and fight for the rights that the undocumented youth deserve.

How has this Movement changed you? 
The visibility in the general public in North Carolina that the student youth have attained thus far has inspired me to expand this project.  The goal is to provide even more Latino undocumented youth (and their families) with art tools that allow them to express themselves visually and to engage the public in discussions or confrontations about the youth’s specific dreams and demands for immigration reform. 

How did you choose the medium for your artwork?
The show includes photographs, sunprints, monoprints, and a digital installation (with camera, mirror and projection) – all reflecting the youth’s experiences of feeling invisible in their communities, outside their families and friends, separating them into two selves: how they see themselves versus how others see them. This theme emerged from my discussions with them and then we adopted the mediums to capture it in multiple ways.

What does activism mean to you?
To be able to create participatory art activities with communities like Immigrant Youth Forum (IYF) and United 4 the Dream (U4TD) to engage the public in discussions or confrontations about the youth’s dreams, fears, and demands regarding civil rights, education, labor, and citizenship. 

Out of the Shadows: Undocumented and Unafraid is on display now through June 29, 2014.

Tell us below what does activism mean to you.

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