‘Enrique’s Journey’ Continues with Art Advocacy Lecture

Fabiola Prieto

“Immigration Advocacy in the Arts” was the theme of the fourth presentation leading to the lecture and book signing by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey.

This time, ethnic studies professor, Fabiola Torres, presented works by artists ranging from painters of the expressionist era to present day filmmakers.

The theme, provided by “Enrique’s Journey,” was immigration. The purpose, as explained by Torres, was to “ignite dialogue.”
“Art is a very important mechanism to get people talking…I wanted to bring light to this concept,” said Torres.

Among the works discussed, was “American Progress,” the famous painting by John Gast, in which Columbia [a feminine personification of the United States] leads the early American settlers westward. “This was done to advocate for immigration, but they used to call it expansion, or manifest destiny,” said Torres.

This presentation, rather than showing a supportive view or disapproval of immigration, exposed different feelings that the artists meant to portray.
For example, in the multimedia piece by Culture Clash, the authors showed their take on the scapegoat against immigrants and the term “alien.” The video contained images of sombreros (Mexican hats) approaching from space as if invading the world.

The paintings by Francisco Enrique Delgado, which featured luchadores (Mexican masked wrestlers), symbolized the anguish of having to deal with the United States as a mean of progress. One painting showed a fight between a luchador and the Statue of Liberty. Another displayed a luchador dragging a family through the river across the border.

“It is a battle between Mexico and the United States,” said Torres, explaining that is not necessarily beneficial for either side.

Torres also showed political cartoons by Lalo Alcaraz, a syndicated cartoonist who deals with Latino issues. There was also photography, including a snapshot of Ozzy Osbourne urinating on the Alamo, as well as comedy clips, like a segment from Cheech Marin’s “Born in East L.A.”

The presentation concluded with an introduction to the science fiction film “Sleep Dealer,” with a futuristic approach on the United States using labor from south of the border without dealing with immigration.

The theme of this lecture was evidently stirring, since the discussion following the presentation brought up new issues, such as Mexico’s approach on the immigration issue, and sweatshops.

Carlos Ugalde, ethnic studies professor, described Torres’ lecture as “fun,” particularly liking that she used works from Culture Clash.

Suad Hawlery, 29, liberal studies, was impressed. “I’ve never been to a lecture like this…I’ve never been into art, but after seeing this, I think that art really speaks for itself.”