Exhibit at Kimball Jenkins features art of incarcerated immigrant children

  • Artwork from children held at the Detention Center in El Paso, Texas. Justin M. Hamel Photography—Courtesy

  • Artwork from children held at the Detention Center in El Paso, Texas. Justin M. Hamel Photography—Courtesy

  • Artwork from children held at the Detention Center in El Paso, Texas. Justin M. Hamel Photography—Courtesy

  • Artwork from children held at the Detention Center in El Paso, Texas. Justin M. Hamel Photography—Courtesy

  • Artwork from children held at the Detention Center in El Paso, Texas. Justin M. Hamel Photography—Courtesy

  • Artwork on display at the Kimball Jenkins Estate in Concord was created by children and teenagers held at the Tornillo Detention Center in Tornillo, Texas. A photographer traveled to the site to document the artwork. Photos courtesy of Justin M. Hamel Photography

  • Artwork from children held at the Detention Center in El Paso, Texas. Justin M. Hamel Photography—Courtesy

  • Artwork from children held at a detention center in Texas. Justin M. Hamel Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 9/5/2019 5:21:29 PM

One child created a miniature version of a national park in Honduras using popsicle sticks, a small blue and white flag made out of paper flying above. Another made cardboard cutouts representing favorite foods from El Salvador: pupusas and enchiladas.

Other immigrant teens incarcerated at Tornillo Detention Center in Tornillo, Texas, chose to draw natural landmarks, like the Acatenango volcano in Guatemala.

“It’s not the kind of art we’re usually exposed to in Concord,” said Ryan Linehan, managing director at the Kimball Jenkins Estate, as he walked around a room filled with colorful photographs of artwork on Thursday.

“Uncaged Art” is an exhibit that opened Wednesday at the Carriage House at Kimball Jenkins and will be open to the public through Sept. 30. 

The exhibit features photographs of art detained immigrant children made while incarcerated in Texas. There, two social studies teachers assigned projects to create artwork that illustrates their home cultures, architecture and geography. Many of the works were thrown away, said Glen Ring, a curator of “Uncaged Art” and a member of the Kent Street Coalition.

A small number of the pieces are being displayed at the Centennial Museum at the University of Texas at El Paso. A photographer, Justin Hamel, traveled to see the art and to capture the works with his camera. Ultimately, the goal was to share the artwork with the world. When Ring saw photos of the art online, she worked to find a way to bring them to Concord.

“I thought it was amazingly beautiful,” Ring said. “It struck me that the kids had so much talent and feeling about their homelands.”

Ring said there’s impactful power in an exhibit on something as universal as children’s artwork, especially created by children trying to get into the United States with their families, given how polarized the country has become over the issue of immigration.

“I really feel like there’s a lot of dehumanization that has gone on – I think people just don’t understand that the people who are coming up here are people,” Ring said. “I think this makes it very clear that these kids are people with all sorts of dreams and thoughts and memories.

“I think its a lot harder to dehumanize someone when you see this incredible artwork they produced,” she added.

There will be a reception for Uncaged Art on Sept. 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.




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