International Artists Show the faces of Migrants

International Artist Show The Faces of Migrants Through Face to Face: Action. Healing. Solidarity from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

On Thursday, July 25, 2013 artist Favianna Rodriguez and CultureStrike hosted Face to Face: Action. Healing. Solidarity in collaboration with Ted Prize winning, photographer JR and his project Inside Out and HUB Oakland. The goal of the project is to show the faces of migrants and their allies in “dignified ways.” Black and white poster-sized portraits were taken in a mobile photo booth, printed and put together to cover a large white wall at 2323 Broadway Ave. in Oakland, Calif.

Rodriguez is an internationally recognized artist who has become involved in the pro-reform debate on immigration at a national level. She is also the coordinator of CultureStrike.  According to Rodriguez, CultureStrike is a national organization that organizes “artist and musicians and filmmakers around migrant rights.”

Julio Salgado, CultureStrike network coordinator says that the event is meant to “put a face to the migrant and people of color community.”

Rodriguez says that the project is “about honoring our beauty and our resiliency as a community.” She says, “There’s many Trayvon Martin’s, there’s many Oscar Grants, and there’s also people being deported every single day, over a thousand deportations a day.” Rodriguez explains the excitement about JR’s participation in the project and at the fact that “we’re able to really send a message to the entire country that black and Latino communities can come together.”

JR is a French artist who exhibits his black and white portraits around the world. His project Inside Out began in 2011. Portraits that are a part of the project have been exhibited in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Italy, Thailand and Pakistan.

More than 10 volunteers helped with the project throughout the day. By approximately 2 p.m., more than 50 people had already participated by having their pictures taken. The wall on which the portraits were placed belongs to HUB Oakland, which according to their website, is a “physical space where community leaders and social entrepreneurs can join together, cross pollinate, bloom and thrive.”

According to The Pew Research Hispanic Center, there are currently an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The Senate passed the immigration reform bill in June.

Same-sex marriage: The Debate

An ongoing national and international controversial issue of interest is same-sex marriage. According to, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, “gay marriage has been legalized in 12 US states” and the District of Columbia. A recent Gallup Poll shows that 53% of Americans believe that same-sex marriages should be legally recognized “with the same rights as traditional marriages.” Despite this increase in support, opponents continue to organize against same-sex marriage.

Opponents of same-sex marriage include organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage,, and the Marriage Law Foundation. The arguments opposing same-sex marriage include those that state that marriage should be defined as “between a man and woman;” same-sex marriage “[denies] children their right to a mother and a father;” and that it “threatens religious freedom” by imposing beliefs on religions that do not believe in same-sex marriage. The National Organization for Marriage’s recent Marriage March in Washington DC in opposition to same-sex marriage gathered speakers of all walks of life, including religious leaders, political figures and Doug Mainwaring, who is gay and opposes same-sex marriage.

Nation For Marriage (2013, March 26). Marriage March Washington DC. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from

Like opponents of same-sex marriage, supporters also come from different walks of life. Religious leaders, such as Reverend Al Sharpton, a Baptist Minister, support the Human Rights Campaign’s argument in favor of same-sex marriage by stating “all of us must fight for what’s fair and what’s right.” Sharpton also states “as a Baptist minister I don’t have the right to impose my beliefs on anyone else.” The American Academy of Pediatrics is a supporter of same-sex marriage and full adoption “for all parents, regardless of their sexual orientation – as the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children.” Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that same-sex couples should be entitled to receive the same benefits, such as Social Security, health insurance, pensions; that same sex marriages are entitled to. The trailer for the upcoming documentary Bridegroom, which spurred from a previous YouTube clip, tells the story of a man who was denied information and banned from his partner’s funeral after his death despite the fact that the two had been together for years, purchased a home and owned a business.

L. Bridegroom (2013, April 4). Bridegroom Trailer #1. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from