Earlier this fall VOX ATL had the honor of speaking with a group of Atlanta teen artists who participated in the Latin American Association’s annual “Portraying the Immigrant Experience” art contest. In a round table discussion, the group shared the inspiration behind their submissions as well as some of the highlights and challenges of creating their pieces. Read below to not only see the artwork for yourself, but also hear them tell you the stories behind it.
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VOX ATL asks, is this your first time participating in an art contest like this? Why did you enter and what are you looking forward to the most?
“White Washed” by Daniela Dock (1st Place winner!)
“The reason for the outlet was because that is something common here in the US so that’s why I chose it as the setting for the painting. I set it up so that each “store” would have something to do with what some people want to change about immigrants and me personally. I will admit it was difficult to draw this all from scratch but I’m happy with the way it turned out in the end.
Last thing I wanted to add to this piece were the people. Originally I wanted to have myself pictured in the painting but instead I decided to depict my culture; Mexican women with the traditional dresses found in different states.”
“The Skull River” by Isaac Rodriguez
“It was June 2019 when a picture of the corpses of a father and his daughter in the Rio Grande became viral across all media. I’m pretty sure that we all know the details about this tragedy, so I’m not going to explain it. However, I’m going to ask you something: Is there anyone talking about this today? No, they just forgot about it, along with a bunch of other tragedies.”
“Struggle” by Jade Moore
“My piece describes what immigration: the laws and societal standpoint look like. You see a separation of the smiling face of our current president: Donald J. Trump. His face separates to show the pain in the background of the ‘borders’ build to keep immigrants out. The way they look out onto the land beyond the gate, and dream of a better life. I choose a smiling reference of him because he’s so happy despite the choices he has made, that hurt millions of people. Those immigrants you see in the background, are exactly as they are portrayed: nameless, faceless, and yet they can die simply for just wanting a better life in the U.S. than they have.”
“The Bloom We Won’t See” by Luis Badillo (3rd Place winner!)
“‘The Bloom We Won’t See’ is meant to illustrate the beauty in which we as a society are represented through the use of symbolic imagery such as the birds, flowers and butterflies being depicted. Our world is represented in a new way. America.In my painting the immigrant society is represented through the flowers. Vibrant and colorful use of reds, yellows, purples and greens flowers in which they grow with one another with a purpose. A purpose to serve to the next in power. Almost like a food chain, these help feed the next animal in line.”
“Dreams, Nightmares and Nostalgia” by Maria J.
“ICE” by Kimberly P.
Migration Experience by Susana Meza
“What I am trying to represent in this artwork, is the effort, hard work and experience that immigrants have to face for new opportunities. Each way has their own difficulties and unpleasant events, but, according to my experience, it is worth it. The colorful left path, represents legal immigration, an easy path with a few difficulties. On the other hand, the painful right path, represents illegal immigration. with more difficulties and grievous obstacles. Despite of the different situations, both have the same goal, a better life full of new opportunities.”
Thank you to the Latin American Association and the teens who shared their stories with us.
Also, special shoutout to this year’s winners, who also win scholarship prizes (first place: $2,500 / second place: $1,500 / third place: $1,000 to reimburse academic expenses once winners are admitted to a technical, two-year or four-year postsecondary educational institution.
First Place: Daniela Dock (Allatoona High School, 12th)
Second Place: Sophia Sobrino (Campbell High School, 12th)
Third Place: Luis Badillo (Marietta High School, 12th)
Isaak Ojeda (Union Grove High School, 12th)
Debanhi Romero (Lakeside High School, 11th)
Adriana Cantor, with “El vuelo del inmigrante”
Sri Harshitha Varanasi (South Forsyth High School, 9th), with “My Life as an Indian Immigrant”