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A “Living Art Installation” and Sustained Community Discussion

During the fall of 2019, the Interactivity Foundation partnered with Philadelphia-based muralist, Michelle Angela Ortiz, to create a “living art installation” about family detention and separation in Pennsylvania.

Nunca Dejemos de Luchar” was created through multiple exploratory discussions and art-making workshops. These facilitated conversations explored the topic of family separation and the impact of migrant detention facilities on Pennsylvania communities. This project was designed to encourage community members to examine their own thoughts, biases, values, and construct their own message about immigration policies in the United States.

This installation showcases the individual messages of community members as it also highlights the importance of communities to work together to respond to pressing policy issues. At the center of this installation are the words of a mother detained at the Berks Family Detention Facility for over two years, “Nunca dejemos de luchar por lo que nuestro corazón anhela [Never stop fighting for what our heart yearns].”

The questions that guided these workshops and inspired the messages created by participants on individual panels are:

  • What do we know about family detention?
  • How does family detention and separation impact our communities? Think broadly. You may want to explore the political, social, economic, psychological, spiritual, moral, ethical, environmental, technological, or cultural implications as well as unintended consequences.
  • What do the policies of family detention and separation say about us as a community? How do they reflect or challenge our values as individuals? How do they reflect or challenge our values as a country?
  • How can/should we respond to family detention? How do we respond as individuals? As communities or groups? What sort of policy possibilities can you imagine?
  • How might our position, experiences, or place in the world affect our perspective on family separation?
  • How do you respond to the mother and her message placed at the center of this installation?

This installation continues to grow and change with each exhibition and community conversation. We invite community members to join a facilitated discussion or just to come and visit the installation, reflect, discuss, and create their own message on temporary panels.

The installation will move to Bryn Mawr College in the spring of 2020. Please contact IF Fellow Shannon Wheatley Hartman at [email protected] if you would like to learn more about this installation or if you would like to host an exhibit and discussion + art-making workshop.

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