Recently, I spoke at the opening of an ambitious art show, “In Shadow,” at 912 Julia Street. The exhibition used art to start conversations about borders and migration, and the organizers brought in films, speakers, music, and live Skype sessions to illuminate the issues that we now have to deal with. “In Shadow” worked to put human faces and complicated realities on situations that our government is trying to solve with simple slogans and simplistic threats.
I appreciated being asked to present the immigration law perspective because justice in the abstract may seem straightforward, but the law isn’t. It was encouraging that the organizers wanted people to appreciate the complicating forces that migrants deal with because that leads to better discourse, and we’ll only make progress as a country when we have better conversations about the meaning of borders and the concept of migration in an American context.
As impressive as the organizers’ desire to present a number of perspectives was the interest in learning more evident in those in attendance. As Facebook has demonstrated, people who want to discuss immigration issues don’t always let the things they don’t know slow their eagerness to share their opinions. These photos by one of the organizers, Antonia Zennaro, show that the audience really wanted to know more and understand how immigration law works, and why it works the way it does.
I appreciated the invitation and the opportunity, and it was heady to be in a room full of people who have thought so seriously and creatively about the issues that I deal with daily. I also have to say, I loved Zennaro’s photographs printed on fabric.