Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"My Prison, My Home" Art Installation by Lizbeth Navarro

It isn't uncommon for an artist to attach a message to their work. But, when the viewer walks out what do they take with them? Vague memories of pretty images, or a sense of empathy and an urge to learn more? The Bazaar Collection was fortunate enough to experience the latter Sunday afternoon. We often wander through the art galleries at California State University, Long Beach to see the latest work. However, we did not expect the experience that came from "My Prison, My Home". It's hard to get a grasp of what life would be like as one who is pursuing the American Dream. But Lizbeth Navarro makes that process easier; The small statured student with a lively smile gave us insight behind what meets the eye. Read her words below and be sure to visit the art galleries at CSULB to see "My Prison, My Home" in person.

TBC: Can you elaborate on the concept of "My Prison, My Home"?

LN: "My prison, My Home" is a metaphor, for the feeling of imprisonment that many undocumented students experience in their daily lives. The country that they chose to be their home has become their prison, because they are aware that if they get out of the country, they can't come back in. They make of their prison a comfortable and cozy home.

TBC: I felt as though I was really inside of your home. How did you decide what objects to include and leave out?

LN: Well, I wanted to make my home as comfortable as possible. I included objects that allude to a cozy and secure feeling, I have the sofa, the pillow, the blanket, cup of fresh tea, candles and books to emphasize this point. I also included objects that are ironic to be in a house where the person cannot get out and explore. I have plants that symbolize nature and the outside world, a photography camera and a globe of the world with all the countries that this person cannot go to. And I crafted out of clay that are a lot more personal an symbolic to this person, the objects that represent time, these are the calendar, the candles,the bible, and letters from relatives.

TBC: If the walls could talk they would have a lot to say. I noticed the walls had very bold statements. Are these your thoughts or have they been expressed by fellow students who are also "undocumented"? Why did you choose to put these statements up?

LN: With this art installation I'm representing a whole community, I'm representing undocumented students  all over California and even the US. That is why I decided to include the voices of many of my fellow students that are in the same situation that I am all over the US.

TBC: What struggles do you face as an undocumented student?

LN: First of all we are faced with a lot of stereotypes and an uninformed  community that is not willing to listen and understand our needs. We cannot get a legal job, drive or get any type of federal financial aid to support our education.

TBC: You mentioned you can't drive, work etc. does this effect your plans for life after graduation?

LN: Absolutely, my plans after graduation are affected greatly. Like many undocumented grad students I'm going to become another illegal worker trying to pursue the American Dream. My many years of education might become useless if I end up getting hired in a minimum wage job, getting paid under the table. This would only affect more the perception that people have about illegal residents. I would be deprived of sharing my talent, knowledge and experience back to my community and my country because of my legal status.

TBC: Is there a strong sense of community with other students that are going through the same experience? How so?

LN: Yes, the support and the networking that you get from being part of an organization that understands and 
knows your need as an illegal student is crucial for us. I'm actually apart of a club on campus called F.U.E.L ( Future Underrepresented Educated Leaders). This club welcomes undocumented students at CSULB and informs us on different issues that are important to us.

TBC: Is there anything students can do to help?

Of course, The DREAM Act can solve this growing problem. Under a rigorous provisions of the DREAM Act , undocumented young people can be eligible for a conditional path to citizenships in exchange for completion of a college degree or two years of military service. At the end of the process, the young person can finally become an American citizen. Unfortunately,the DREAM ACT is stalled at the senate. We as students can motivate an pursue the speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi and our local senators to pass the DREAM Act this year. For more info please visit: 

TBC: Do you have any advice for incoming freshmen or students who are transferring to CSULB?

LN: Yeah, to inform themselves to know what their fighting for and know their rights. If we want a change we need to be part of it, we need to be the change we want to see in the world.

TBC: Where can we see your work in the future?

LN: I appreciate your interest in my work, and I would invite everyone to visit my website www.lizbethnavarro.com and to follow my journey as an undocumented student persuing the American Dream. 

TBC: In regards to "undocumented students" is there anything else you would like to add that I didn't cover?

LN: Yes, I would urge people to inform themselves to ask questions and to do research before they take any side of this issue. Ignorance and misinformation is the worst disease that a country can have.

"My Prison, My Home" will be open until Thursday. Please visit.


c h u d a i k o said...

I enjoyed Lizbeth's gallery, and I was especially amused but the smell of the wood chips.
It's wonderful that you're interviewing the student artist at CSULB. :)

The Bazaar Collection said...

Thanks chudaiko!! We noticed the smell too! We're going to try to keep them coming :). And thank you for viewing the blog.

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