WHAT (Project Description)

Ways of Being (Dis)Located explores the latinx condition through questions around immigration,(dis)placement and belonging.

Using mapping as metaphor for migration, the project contains an ongoing body of mixed media, 2D works that pull from real, found maps, and through various interventions, re-imagine them into new compositions. The work that emerges reveals the nuance, chaos, and complexity involved in navigating the world as an immigrant. In the end, the pieces are a combination of collaged images and maps, painting, drawing, and printmaking.

These maps become embodiments of human experience and memory. Rather than function as directional tools for navigation, these maps call into question the presumed objectivity and logic underpinning the omnipresent navigational map. By working directly with existing maps, I question the assumed power of these cultural documents while asking the viewer to reconsider its truths and reflect on their own, subjective ideas of placement and belonging. The works are mixed media including paint, collage, drawing, and printmaking on paper, canvas, and board and vary in size

Other parts of the project “Ways of Being (Dis)Located” include upcoming participatory aspects that engage folks through community engagement. These may include panel discussions, readings, exhibitions, workshops, recordings, conference presentations, and publications.

HOW (Process + Engagement)

The themes of my work oscillate between the personal and universal experience. I’m excited at the prospect of dialoguing with people around questions of migration, belonging, and latinx identity through this project--one that recalls the universality of maps while invoking the subjective nature of spatial experience. My exploratory making process is central to my work; I actively seek opportunities to show others what it means to be a working artist of color in a world that’s often literally mapped out exclusively to the privileged few.

WHY (Relevance: Political, Community and the Bigger Picture)

As an immigrant to the US from Ecuador and a recipient of DACA, not only do I create work from a desire to find and inspire meaning in feelings of displacement and immobility, but also from a place of imaginative freedom and hope. I want to create a space to dialogue about the possibilities of a future where the places we inhabit morph as fluidly as when we transition between them--where borders, imposed or self-made, don’t become limits to our potential for exchange and livelihood. I’m interested in thinking about what a latinx futurism looks like mapped out in the abstractions of our collective imaginaries and how experimentation with materials like paint and paper can become the platform for an immersive, collaborative meditation.

As an artist I want to deepen the conversation around immigration in the US, particularly the experience of being latinx and undocumented, without centering trauma, the white imaginary, or the white gaze. Just as the experience of being latinx in the US is not monolithic or singular, the experience of being an immigrant is one of nuance and complexity that I want to investigate as a community. Art making allows myself and others to find our voices in a time that is particularly dangerous and violent towards our community. It also allows for individuals to gather as collectives and learn from each other, moving from a place of empathy to action. Ultimately, I want to use this project to highlight the brilliance, resilience, and power of the immigrant.

My long-term goal for this project is to turn it into a publication for distribution, as well as an exhibition of all the works made. The book will include a curated selection of the works, alongside essays, interviews, and other creative writings by scholars, artists, and other contributors that explore ideas such as placement, dislocation, migration, undocumented experience, and the search for belonging. My hope is to develop this project collaboratively, over time, and with diverse audiences all over the US to compose a dynamic collection of stories and artworks that demonstrate the vastness of the migratory experience.

by Francisco Donoso
edited by Emily Chow Bluck, Molly Lambe and Ahalia Persaud