Sueños: An Art Project for the Movement

Aug 9, 2017
5:02 PM

Sueños altar at the Light City Festival in Baltimore. (Photo by Edgar Reyes/Used with permission)


Edgar Reyes, 26, turned his dreams into an art project called Sueños. Reyes created the project as a way to highlight the different stories of the Latino immigrant community in the United States and to raise the voice of many young Latino immigrants who are currently chasing their dreams.

“Sueños” has two pieces. A light box that looks like an altar holds pictures of women from different generations: one image of “la Virgen de Guadalupe” and  one indigenous figure.

The altar is to honor “my mom who risked her life to better ours and to the rest of the women who put their life at risk to get to this country and are now forgotten,” Reyes told Latino Rebels in an interview.

Virgen de la Guadalupe at the Sueños altar. (Photo by Edgar Reyes/Used with permission)

The idea of the altar is to praise and celebrate the lives of those who have died crossing the U.S-Mexico border.

“When we talk about migration, we talk about a lot of people losing their lives, but we don’t highlight as much the women who get raped, murdered or went missing trying to cross la frontera,” Reyes said.

The second piece in “Sueños” is a set of banners with photos of young Latino immigrants from different backgrounds to give “an opposite view of what this administration [Trump’s] is portraying of Latinos highlighting the different spectrums of migration,” Reyes said.

Sueños banners at the Light City Festival in Baltimore. (Photo by Edgar Reyes/Used with permission)

The people featured are young Latinos who came at a young age, had recently arrived or were born in the U.S. but whose parents are immigrants. The idea of these banners is to provide a voice for young Latinos and “let others know they are an important part of the movement,” Reyes added.

These young Latinos are activists and students involved in different immigration rights organizations in Baltimore.

As Latinos are often portrayed as the struggling minority community, “Sueños” has provided a space for these young activists to “represent us in a different way and show others that we made it,” said Julia Avilés-Zavala, one of the young women featured in the art project.

From the “Sueños” project. (Used with permission.)

Reyes’ inspiration comes from his own experience as an undocumented student. He left Guadalajara with his family when he was five years old. He arrived first to Los Angeles and later moved to Baltimore.

After being involved with immigrant rights organization CASA for four years, Reyes became a high school teacher. Art has been the avenue for him to contribute to the immigrant rights movement. Through his photos, he wants to represent Latinos in a different way and to inspire the community to speak up.

“I tell my students to dream big and that the world is yours. When I dream, I don’t dream of borders or barriers,” Reyes said.

The two-piece art project was featured at Light City, an international art festival in Baltimore last April. Reyes is currently working with other organizations to get more funds to show his art in other areas of the country.

“I am creating artwork for the movement,” Reyes added.

“Sueños” Is not the only project Reyes has worked on. Jóvenes Guerreros is a photography journal featuring different people to emphasize who “we have in our communities and what we find beautiful about our neighbors, neighborhoods, our families, our languages, and our cultures,” Reyes said.

Reyes is now part of a project called “Borderless” with CASA. This is a mobile studio that holds arts-based workshops with local artists and the community to promote social change.

The next exhibition of Sueños will be at El Paso, Texas, at the end of August as a demonstration against the SB 4 “show me your papers” Texas law.



María Camila Montañez is a journalism student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Spanish-language program. She is originally from Colombia and tweets from @mariacmontanez.