Monday, October 15, 2012

Illegal Immigrant

Illegal Immigrant. Stitched words: Looking for the American Dream. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand stitched. 25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed.  Click on image to enlarge.

When I started this series I didn't think I'd find an undocumented worker willing to pose for this decision. It would be a risky thing for someone in this position to do. Through the help of others, this brave man came forth. His face is partially covered. He agreed to pose. Others signed the "model's release" as "witnesses" to our agreement. Thus, he is protected and I have the legal right to use the image.

There's quite a lot of controversy about our "southern neighbors" coming to this country without work permits, having children within our borders, working in unsafe environments, being paid "under the table", and all sorts of other things. There are solid arguments on both sides of these issues. Fortunately, this series isn't about the controversy. I have no intention to suggest a "right" or a "wrong". My aim is simply to present a real person who made this decision with no value judgment attached. This is it.

The decision this man made was to come to a place where he could work for more money than he could make in this own country. He is looking for and working for and hoping for THE AMERICAN DREAM.

This is a theme that has fascinated me in the past and was on my mind again while traveling with my parents and sister Wanda to Hungary the week after finishing this portrait. (Summer 2010) My Dad and his family came to this country in 1952. They were immigrants. They, too, were looking for the AMERICAN DREAM. (They came legally but after being deported from Hungary and living for three years in a displace persons camp in West Germany.) As a result, I grew up believing that the USA is undoubtedly the land of opportunity. I understand the desire to come.... by any means.

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