August 10 – September 29, 2017
This video and sound installation is an homage to the children who try to cross borders to start a new life with or without their parents, and to all the parents who dream of better opportunities and a safer life. The elements that compose the piece, evoke the relativity of the physical space and territories, delimited by artificial geopolitical borders, although under the same sky. The floating screen that divides the space as a borderline. To enter the other side of the room that insinuates a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility, (based on the first images revealed in 2014 of the Texas detention centers for unaccompanied, undocumented minors).
Under the same sky... we dream, reflects on the rights to move freely beyond borders, the consequences of unregulated migration, the detention centers for undocumented minors at the Mexico – US border and the DREAM Act legislation of the immigration reform in the United States that was never adopted. Since the beginning of 2014, hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths and families from Central America and Mexico have arrived at the border lacking humanitarian protections, turning the migration crisis into a multimillion lucrative business for private prisons and county jails, which hold ninety percent of immigration detainees.
The DREAM Act is a bipartisan legislation first introduced in the Congress in 2001. Known formally as Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, it has since been reintroduced several times, but has failed to pass. This bill aimed to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children who grew up in the United States, (a multi-phase process for undocumented immigrants that would have granted conditional residency and, upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.
The video projection of the sky, visible from both sides of the hanging screen, has been sculpted to the contours of the US-Mexico borderline. Visitors who pass under the screen will encounter a series of military-style mattresses and Mylar blankets, exactly like those used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in detention centers housing undocumented minors who have been caught trying to enter the country illegally.
You are invited to sit or lie on one of these mats as an act of reflection and solidarity. From your seat on the gallery floor you can watch the time-lapse video, created from more than 35,000 photographs of the sky taken in proximity to the border between El Paso and Juarez. You will be surrounded by the Magos Herrera’s evocative musical rendition of the DREAM Act, projected in stereo into the gallery space. You can follow her performance word by word in the artist books also designed by Harrsch, that are illuminated with a small, personal, clip light. The photographs in these books, taken over a period of three years, are themselves arranged along a borderline. In the front half of the books you will find images from the US side of the border, in the back half images from Mexico; the legislation, arranged by the artist in the style of concrete poetry, is found in the middle, dividing the two worlds.
If you’d like to learn more about the DREAM Act and the people it affects, you can visit the adjacent room to see The New American Dreamers photos and stories of real-life Dreamers complied by Santa Fe-based artists Sylvia Johnson and Kerry Sherck.
While there are no precise statistics available to document the number of UTEP students who would be affected by the passage of some version of the DREAM Act, what we do know about our student body and the surrounding community is that it is home to many mixed-document families and all of them are living out different versions of the American Dream. We have students who are children of farmworkers, and who may have been brought here as children themselves; students who have earned their legal status through service in the military; students who were born here but who have undocumented parents or siblings that live in constant fear of deportation. The core question that the DREAM Act seeks to address – how do we ensure the security, safety and economic future of accomplished and long-standing members of our community, regardless of their place of birth? – is a question that has a particular relevance in this place and at this time in our nation’s history. Core to the Rubin Center’s mission is a commitment to using contemporary art as a springboard for deeper conversations about the world around us. Erika Harrsch’s Under the Same Sky…We Dream is central to fulfilling that mission.
—Kerry Doyle, Rubin Center Director
The New American Dreamers
Dreamers are young people who came into the US prior to June 15, 2012 and before their sixteenth birthday. They have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which is a kind of administrative relief from deportation that gives them the right to work and go to school in the US. It is renewable every two years. The policy was created after acknowledgment that these undocumented students had been largely raised in the United States, and was seen as a way to remove immigration enforcement attention from low priority individuals with good behavior.
Created by photographers Sylvia Johnson and Kerry Sherck, and produced in partnership with the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, The New American Dreamers is a positive reframe of whom many of the immigrants living in our midst are. Each of the Dreamers profiled in this series was brought to the US as a young child and most of them have grown up almost exclusively here. Their stories reflect the dreams, hopes, challenges, and ambitions that are inherent to all of us as human beings. In the context of such a toxic environment currently being perpetuated about immigrants in this country, this project flips the narrative for a closer, more human look at the stories of incredible Dreamers who are our friends, clients, and neighbors.
Santa Fe Dreamers Project
Santa Fe Dreamers Project is a non-profit legal services organization serving New Mexico’s immigrant community. Since the beginning in 2014, the Dreamers Project has served primarily immigrant youth and families, focusing on economic and community development. Santa Fe Dreamers Project is committed to representing every qualified immigrant who walks through their doors. At the core of their philosophy is an effort to understand the barriers that normally prevent immigrant families from accessing legal representation and to design our services with those barriers in mind.
To follow the release and see more stories from The New American Dreamers, follow:
About the Artists
Sylvia Johnson, Photographer/Creative Director
Sylvia Johnson is a photographer, filmmaker, and impact strategist. Sylvia works with organization to craft compelling visual stories that increase our understanding of our shared humanity, drive positive change, and foster human connection. Her films have been official selections at film festivals worldwide including Aspen Shortsfest, International Documentary Association Awards, Raindance, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, Telluride Mountainfilm, and more. She has taught film and photography at the Corcoran College of Art + Design and the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
Kerry Sherck, Photographer
Kerry Sherck is an editorial photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico who has worked as a photojournalist for over 10 years. During that time she's had the opportunity to photograph a wide variety of assignments and people, from presidential visits to the everyday lives of immigrant laborers. Kerry studied photography at ETPA (École Technique Privée de Photographie et de Multimédia), in Toulouse, France. She has lived in France and Mexico and is fluent in French and Spanish.