I was super nervous on the first day of the SHOW ME YOUR PAPERS class at Stanford University - I must admit. Not only was I going to be teaching at one of the most prestigious universities in this country, but this was going to be a twice-a-week-kinda gig, for a solid 10 weeks - which meant that I had to cut back on my usual traveling and buckle down to handle business.
I prepared for months before the class. I wanted to give students a deep look at the devastation, trauma, and violation of human rights caused by our country's failed immigration system. I also wanted to show the power that art can have in bringing humanity to this issue, in exposing the truth around how these laws are passed, and what their effects are on children, students and families. I wanted each student to have a sense of the power of culture and art in helping to change the national imagination on immigration.
I wasn't sure what to expect from my students. Would they be into social activism? Would they be inspired to fight on behalf of the millions of undocumented migrants in the US? Would they be artsy students trying to take a "different" kind of course just for the sake of it? And most importantly, would they like me?!??
It only took a few initial introductions to see just how passionate these students were! I was very surprised and pleased to learn that my students were already very engaged in social justice and organizers themselves. Some of them are organizing around Filipino migrant issues, while others are involved with the Domestic Workers Alliance, while others are going to spend their summer internining with non-profits that fight deportations. Interestingly enough, none of my students were in the art department.
Every single week each and every students not only poured their creativity into these beautiful pieces, but they also made sure to thorougly research the subject of immigration. We spent loads of time on figuring out the main messages and the call to action. We explored subjects from the Dream act, to deportations, to S-Comm, to the rights of migrant parents who are losing their children as a result of deporations. I am a firm believer that in order to make an effective political poster, one must know the issues that they are trying to depct. We must research our topics and not be afraid to ask questions. My students did all of this.
I am so proud to show you the final stages of these posters as we wrap up the class. I am thoroughly impressed with the quality and artistic caliber. Special thanks to the artists who came to help me with the classes - Julio Salgado, Oree Originol, and Texta Queen - artists who shared their skills and provided overall support to me each week. And thanks to Jeff Chang, director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford, and Ellen Oh. THANK YOU for making this class a reality!
Prints waiting to dry.
This print by Madeline Sides uses humor to educate viewers on what SCOMM is and its negative impacts on immigrant communities.