Getting Here: LA Stories of Immigration stimulated hundreds of young people to hand-write letters and share their story of childhood migration. We are proud to share their work as a grantee of our new grant program Humanities for All. This project was awarded a Humanities for All Quick Grant from California Humanities.
Artist Jaime Guerrero invited visitors to share their own stories of childhood immigration to Los Angeles in the form of handwritten letters. These letters covered an entire wall at the Craft in America Center during Jaime Guerrero’s solo exhibition at the Craft in America Center–surrounding Guerrero’s glass sculptures of children detained at the border–and at the Biscailuz Gallery at El Pueblo Historic Monument in Downtown Los Angeles as a part of the exhibition Borders and Neighbors: Craft Connectivity Between the U.S. and Mexico. The letters have been digitized so that they may continue to be shared. This participatory public history collection project is intended to deepen community understanding of child immigrant experiences and how they impact our city.
Project Director Brenda Cruz writes,
I knew my project was reaching the people when one of our Craft in Schools teachers mailed us 70 letters written by ESL high school students in the first week. I was not only amazed, but grateful to these young individuals willing to publicly share their personal stories of immigration.
The most exciting moment of the project was when we had 30 of these students come to the Center for a field trip to see their letters displayed on our walls as part of Jaime Guerrero’s Broken Dreams. They dialogued with Jaime about glass, art and immigration politics. It was rewarding for the students to see their stories become art.
I hoped this project would receive attention, but I was thrilled when KPCC decided to do a segment on Jaime Guerrero’s exhibition and the importance of these letters. Immediately after it aired, we had numerous individuals visit the Center specifically to read these letters. People came from San Diego to San Francisco. High school students from schools we had never worked with came and wrote reports on the exhibit as part of their class assignments; college students dropped by to write their own stories and other visitors wrote about their parents’ journeys to America.
See the entire online collection below:
Other aspects of the project included a series of discussions, lectures in conjuction with the art exhibit MANO MADE.
This project is made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.