Visions From the Inside: Art Inspired by Letters Written by Detained Migrants

Aug 10, 2015
10:32 PM

A new partnership between CultureStrike, Mariposas Sin Fronteras and End Family Detention has resulted in the creation of the Visions From the Inside project, where 15 artists interpret letters written by detained migrants at Karnes Detention Center.


As the project’s Tumblr site says:

By visually illustrating these letters, we aim to bring awareness and a better sense of the realities that people are experiencing inside of for-profit detention facilities, what led them to migrate in the first place and, most importantly, highlighting the resiliency of the migrant spirit.

The Tumblr also contains excerpt of ac actual letters written by detained migrants. The following work of art was inspired by this letter (the full letter is here): “They go through our drawers just like a prisoner. Sometimes they treat us with kindness, but other times they don’t treat us well due to the fact that some are good and others are angry.”


Roberto Trujillo, the artist who created this piece also shared how that letter led to his final work:

I’m choosing to show multiple images that came to mind from the little boy’s letter to illustrate as many parts of his daily life as possible. So few people (including me) understand what children and their parents are going through on a day to day basis, so Illustrating as much of those points as possible. I think the part of the letter that hit me most is the idea of not being able to control what is happening, not knowing when they will be able to leave, and the cramped feeling of all of these conditions on top of each other. The conditions are all a part of the same screwed up situation. All a part of the same torture. I want [people] to get a sense that there is not a lot of freedom of space, choice, or room from this child’s point of view. From the letter I got a sense that this child is feeling overcrowded, watched, ordered, and controlled; all in a very small space.


According to the project’s organizers:

For this project, we brought together artists of diverse racial, migration and gender identities from across the country to help highlight the experiences that families face while in for-profit immigration detention centers by illustrating letters published at End Family Detention. Our approach was to balance both the realities of these detained mothers while also focusing on their heroism and bravery.

Some of these artists, who happen to be or have been undocumented, used their experience to approach the project. Fidencio Martinez, an Iowa-based artist, who was at one point held in detention states, “All I wanted [when I
was in detention] was the comfort of my mother and I think that [detained] women are incredibly brave, strong and noble in those situations.”

Fidencio_finalYou can follow the hashtag #VisionsFromTheInside on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.