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National art project highlighting immigrant reform makes a stop in Grand Rapids

Immigrant Advocacy Art Project
Kylie Ambu
Inside Out 11M builds art project on the Blue Bridge for immigrant advocacy

With just a quick snap of a photo, faces of Grand Rapids own were added to the Blue Bridge downtown. The participatory art project hit Grand Rapids on Monday and was hosted by Inside Out 11M, an art initiative that aims to create a portrait of America that includes immigrants and the descendants of immigrants alike. The group's latest initiative aims to push Congress towards creating a pathway to citizenship this Fall for the millions of immigrants who call America home.

"Currently there's a lot of debate and conversation around immigration reform. What we really want through this tour is to generate a momentum and start creating more awareness starting conversations in communities showing the faces of every kind of person that makes up this greater American identity," Inside Out 11M's Damariz Damkan said.

The project is part of a campaign called "We Are Home," alongside Michigan People's Campaign and Michigan United, which collects stories of immigrants in local communities across the nation. Daniel Caracheo Teniente, an immigrant rights organizer for the Michigan People’s Campaign, said the artwork is a way of humanizing the real-life people behind immigration statistics.

“Numbers are words on pages, but we forget all of this is effecting real people," he said, "For some context, I myself am an DACA recipient. My brother is a DACA recipient, and he's a nurse... we are an integral part of this community.”

Photos of individuals on the bridge represented their expression of solidarity with millions of immigrants. While Grand Rapids was the project's first stop in Michigan, Inside Out 11M is on a national, 16-city tour.

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