Lifting Our Voices: Stories of Immigration through Public Art
Please join use for this inspiring evening.
This event is free and open to the public.
Janurary 25th at 7 p.m.
Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist/ skilled muralist/ community arts educator who uses her art as a vehicle to represent people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Through painting, printmaking, and community arts practices, she creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues communities and individuals may face. Her work tells stories using richly crafted and emotive imagery to claim and transform spaces into a visual affirmation that reveals the strength and spirit of the community.
For over eighteen years, Ortiz continues to be an active educator in using the arts as a tool for communication to bridge communities. As a highly skilled muralist, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works nationally (PA, NJ, MS, NY) and internationally. Since 2008, Ortiz has led community building and art for social change public art projects both independently in Costa Rica and Ecuador and through the United States Embassy as a Cultural Envoy in Fiji, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, and Honduras. In Cuba, she completed the first U.S. State funded public art project since the re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana in 2015.
Ortiz is a recent Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellow, a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist National Fellow, and a Santa Fe Art Institute Equal Justice Resident Artist. In 2016, she received the Americans for the Arts' Public Art Year in Review Award which honors outstanding public arts projects in the nation. She is also fellow of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Fund for the Arts (2011), recipient of the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award (2008) and Art & Change Grant (2013, 2012 & 2006.) She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from Moore College of Art & Design and a Master's Degree in Science of Arts and Cultural Management from Rosemont College.
Seguimos Caminando: “Seguimos Caminando” (We Keep Walking) is a moving monument that imagines the gates of City Hall in Philadelphia that brings to the forefront the stories written by detained undocumented mothers through a series of animated projections. The project is featured in Monument Lab, a public art and history project produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia and a curatorial team led by Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum. Here is the audio recording of the recently released mothers reading her story that is illustrated in the moving monument.
Flores de Libertad: Ortiz led several free paper flower workshops open to the public at the Barnes Foundaiton. Over a thousand paper flowers, a tradition passed down by her maternal grandmother, were created by more than 100 participants that include students, educators, and families in Philadelphia. The flowers made by the participants will join the flowers made by the mothers detained at Berks which carry messages of freedom and the continued fight against family detention. On Wednesday, October 25th from 11 am -12pm, the hand dyed flowers were assembled at the north gates of City Hall to spell out the 10’x40’ word “Libertad” (Freedom/ Liberty). The collective artwork is a creative action followed by a press conference led by the Shut Down Berks Coalition to end family detention in Pennsylvania and in the United States.
Familias Separadas: “Familias Separadas” is an ongoing project. The first phase was a series of temporary site-specific public art works that will mark locations and document stories of immigrant families affected by deportations in the city of Philadelphia. The main goal of the project is to shift the focus on the statistics/ numbers of the deported people and see the father, mother, brother that has been torn apart from their families. For over a year and a half, Ortiz worked with undocumented youth and families in partnership with Juntos, a Latino immigrant community-led organization fighting for human rights as Immigrants, parents, youth, and workers. She collected audio stories from undocumented families that reveal the moment their loved ones were deported and how their lives changed before and after deportation. Ortiz is created a total of five large-scale artworks that will be placed throughout the city.