Sunday, August 08, 2010

Illegal Immigrant, Decision Portrait Series

(Above: Illegal Immigrant, Decision Portrait Series. Stitched words: Looking for the American Dream. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand stitched. 25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed. Click on image to enlarge.)

When I started this series I didn't think I'd find an undocumented worker willing to pose for this decision. It would be a risky thing for someone in this position to do. Through the help of others, this brave man came forth. His face is partially covered. He agreed to pose. Others signed the "model's release" as "witnesses" to our agreement. Thus, he is protected and I have the legal right to use the image.

(Above: Illegal Immigrant, Decision Portrait. Detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

There's quite a lot of controversy about our "southern neighbors" coming to this country without work permits, having children within our borders, working in unsafe environments, being paid "under the table", and all sorts of other things. There are solid arguments on both sides of these issues. Fortunately, this series isn't about the controversy. I have no intention to suggest a "right" or a "wrong". My aim is simply to present a real person who made this decision with no value judgment attached. This is it.

The decision this man made was to come to a place where he could work for more money than he could make in this own country. He is looking and working and hoping for THE AMERICAN DREAM.

(Above: Illegal Immigrant, Detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

This is a theme that has fascinated me in the past and will be on my mind in the coming week while traveling with my parents and sister Wanda to Hungary. My Dad and his family came to this country in 1952. They were immigrants. They, too, were looking for the AMERICAN DREAM. (They came legally but after being deported from Hungary and living for three years in a displace persons camp in West Germany.) As a result, I grew up believing that the USA is undoubtedly the land of opportunity. I understand the desire to any means.

To view a video of an altered book I created called American Dream (2007), CLICK HERE.


Margeeth said...

Interesting to hear your father originally comes from Hungary. You write he was deported from Hungary and lived in Germany for three years, does this mean he and his family were one of the many ethnic Germans that had been living in Hungary for many years but where deported after WW II? When I read your last name "Lenz" I guessed you had German ancestors somewhere in your family tree, but I never knew they were this close.

Connie said...

Susan, Have a wonderful trip. I'm sure it will be inspiration for future art.