Friday, December 21, 2012

Come and See the "Aqui y Allá" Mural Documentary

FRIDAY, JANUARY 11TH 6:30- 8:00 pm

Location: Mural Arts Program

Lincoln Financial Mural Arts Center at the Thomas Eakins House

1729 Mt. Vernon Street, Philadelphia, PA

This transnational public art project, created and directed by local artist Michelle Angela Ortiz in the summer of 2012, connected Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia with youth in Chihuahua, Mexico to create a permanent mural in South Philadelphia.

"Aqui y Alla", which translates to "Here and There" explores the effect of immigration on their lives, through their family dynamic, sense of identity, shifting of cultures, socio-economic status, and violence against their communities. The video documentary shares first hand testimonials of young Mexican immigrant students in Philadelphia and Mexico,and follows how these students worked in parallel on both sides of the border toward a shared creative vision.

Check Out the Mural in Time Lapse Video!!!

We were able to create a time lapse video of the mural. Click here or play the video below to see the blank wall transformed into the "Aqui y Alla" Mural!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Project on "Culture Strike"

CultureStrike is a magazine at the forefront of the national arts movement around immigration.
CultureStrike seeks to support the national and global arts movement around immigration. They are a network of artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and other cultural workers who want to fight anti-immigrant hate by bringing out the stories of migrants and creating counter-narratives about migration. They commission, publish, and broadcast new art, writing and media, featuring a wide range of literature, art and ideas in their online magazine of culture and politics.

Check out the article about the "Aqui y Allá" Project here. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lead Artist Michelle Angela Ortiz in the News

Michelle Angela Ortiz, creator, director and lead artist of the "Aqui y Allá" mural project, was recently interviewed by NBC Latino and was featured in the front page of the Style and Soul section of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

To read the interviews click on the links below:

Philadelphia Inquirer

NBC Latino

Wednesday, October 3, 2012



"AQUI Y ALLA" EXHIBITION  Friday, October 5th, 2012
5:30-7:30 pm
Mural Arts Program, 1729 Mount Vernon Street, Philadelphia
(Exhibit will run from October 5-- 31st, 2012  Monday- Friday 10 am- 4pm)
Open to the public

Curated by lead artist Michelle Angela Ortiz and assistant artist Patty Barrera, the "Aqui y Alla" exhibit will showcase photographs, artwork, and in-depth video interviews surrounding the "Aqui y Alla" project. "Aqui y Alla" transnational public art project was created and directed by local artist Michelle Angela Ortiz. The project explores the impact of immigration in the lives of Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia in connection with youth in Chihuahua, Mexico.

This month-long exhibit at the Lincoln Financial Mural Arts Center at the historic Thomas Eakins House (1727-29 Mt. Vernon Street) gives the community built around the mural, as well as a larger audience, the opportunity to engage with the work on a personal level, and learn more about the impact of immigration on youth on both sides of the border.

"AQUI Y ALLA" MURAL DEDICATION  Thursday, October 18th, 2012
5:30- 7:30 pm
Mural Location- 1515 South 6th Street, Philadelphia (6th and Dickinson Streets)
Open to the public

The "Aqui y Alla" transnational public art project created and directed by local artist Michelle Angela Ortiz. The project explores the impact of immigration in the lives of Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia in connection with youth in Chihuahua, Mexico. 

For this project, Ortiz invited four artists and community leaders from Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico (David Flores, Juan Carlos Reyes, Oscar Gallegos and Antonio Leal) worked with youth in Mexico, who created transportable murals on fiber cloth panels that were brought to Philadelphia. The artists traveled to Philadelphia to work in collaboration with lead local artist Ortiz in conducting a series of writing, street art, and mural technique workshops with Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia.

"Aqui y Alla", which translates to "here and there", refers to the youth in both Philadelphia and Mexico, whose lives are impacted by immigration through their family dynamic, sense of identity, shifting of cultures, socio-economic status, and violence against their communities. This project works simultaneously on both sides of the border to join the two cultural worlds through the vision of young people and their art in the creation of a permanent mural in South Philadelphia.

The public is welcomed to celebrate and hear remarks from:
  • Michelle Angela Ortiz, Lead Artist/ Creator and Director of the project
  • Jane Golden, Director of Mural Arts Collaborating Organization
  • David Flores, Collaborating Artist from Juarez, Mexico
  • Fredy Argulles, Participating Student and Mexican Immigrant Teen 
  • Special performance from Mexican Folkloric Dance Youth Group from Casa Monarca

"Aqui y Alla" on WHYY Radio

Young Mexican immigrants bridge 'here' and 'there' with mural

September 17, 2012
by Elisabeth Perez- Luna
With all the million tears I cried, I could build a stairway to Heaven and bring you back home," he wrote.

The mural is called "Aqui y Alla" or "Here and There." With it, Ortiz wanted to give a voice to adolescents from both sides of the border.

Expressions of loss and longing

"The Mexican immigrant teens that work directly with us in this project, immigrated at the ages of 9 and 10 with their parents and family members and some of them on their own.

"For some of them, it is very difficult to talk about that journey and crossing, but also, they find themselves with many family conflicts of the fact that they were left behind by their parents at an early age and then they came to be reunited with their parents here in Philadelphia. There's a relationship that's broken," said Ortiz.

Ortiz is not new to the mural art project system of bringing people together to tell their personal stories. In this case, she also worked with four painters from two Mexican public art collectives from the border cities of Chihuahua and Juarez. She trained them to collect stories and artwork from teens in their cities and invited them to Philadelphia to collaborate with young Mexican immigrants here.

The process was a revelation for street artist David Flores, a member of a graffiti arts collective in Juarez.

"This project was groundbreaking for me as an artist," said Flores in Spanish, "because Michelle taught us to use a more ambitions approach to street art in terms of size and permanence. We went from fast wall graphic work and gallery painting to doing enormous collective murals."

After climbing up the three-story scaffolding, Ortiz describes a stylized Aztec calendar that forms one of several large circles in the mural.

"You have these two circles that will represent a young lady who has arrived with a map of South Philadelphia behind her, and then you're going to have a young boy that actually has a map that represents a mapping of Juarez and Chihuahua along with a specific map from Puebla, which is where most of the Mexican immigrants are coming from to Philadelphia," explained Ortiz.

'We see ourselves as artivists'...
To read more click here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cover Story in South Philadelphia Review!

Mexican artists design 'Aqui y Alla'
A local muralist encouraged Mexican youths — living locally and in Mexico — to share their stories for a Passyunk Square creation.
By Lauren Hertzler
Born and raised in South Philly by Latino immigrant parents, Ortiz grew up surrounded by people from all different cultures. She first-handedly witnessed the connection her family had with different immigrants — all working toward the “American dream” — but also discovered tensions between different ethnic groups.
“I think that falls into why I would even come up in doing a project like this,” Ortiz said. “It’s because I, like many of the students that were in our program, know what it’s like to speak two different languages, live two different types of cultures, and have another way of looking at things and living life.”
Ortiz wanted the basis of her project to use art as a means to bring people together, giving them a voice and making them visible.
“My role as an artist and my skill as an artist really can help give presence to a community,” Ortiz said. “I don’t think a mural is going to give us world peace, but I do think that a mural becomes a point of encounter.”
Once Jerry Gramaglia, a South Philly native who owns the apartment building on which the mural was painted, learned what Ortiz wanted to do with the wall, he was hooked.
“Being that my parents were Italian immigrants, I had no problem with [Ortiz] doing the mural,” Gramaglia said. “People tend to forget, I think we’re all immigrants. All us Americans are all immigrants at some point down the line.”

"Aqui y Alla" Project in El Sol Newspaper!

“La inmigración en las vidas de los jóvenes latinos y mexicanos en el Sur de Filadelfia”

Leticia Roa Nixon
El proyecto de arte público transnacional titulado “Aquí y Allá” fue creado y dirigido por la artista local Michelle Angela Ortiz. El proyecto explora el impacto de la inmigración en las vidas de los jóvenes inmigrantes latinos y mexicanos en el Sur de Filadelfia en conexión con la juventud del estado de Chihuahua en México. Comenzó en julio y terminará el 30 de agosto.

La juventud en ambas comunidades, aquí y allá, se ven impactadas por los efectos de la inmigración a través de la dinámica de la familia, el sentido de identidad, el cambio de culturas, el status socio-económico y la violencia en contra de sus comunidades. Este proyecto trabaja simultáneamente a ambos lados de la frontera, Chihuahua y Filadelfia para unir dos mundos culturales mediante la vision de los jóvenes y su arte.

Para leer mas haga click aqui.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Our Project on The Art Blog!!!

Check out this article about our project posted on The Art Blog...

(Visiting Artists: Oscar Gallegos, Antonio Leal, Juan Carlos Reyes, David Flores with Lead Artist Michelle Angela Ortiz)

by Rachel Heidenry

As people pass 1515 6th Street in South Philadelphia, on the exterior wall of the building they will see drawings of two large empty circles embraced by falling leaves and rhythmic swirls. Inside the two circles is mostly white space — primed wall — ready to be filled with painted panels that touch on issues of immigration.

“Aquí y Allá” (“Here and There”), which chronicles stories of immigration told by teens in Mexico and in Philadelphia, was organized by mural artist and Philadelphia native Michelle Ortiz (who has worked with the city’s Mural Arts Program). For over a year and a half, Ortiz worked to gain support and funding from a variety of sources — Philadelphia Academics, Inc., the Mural Arts Education Program, the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Leeway Foundation, Hispanics in Philanthropy, and individual donations. “It started off as a small idea and it became a reality,” Ortiz explained during an interview at the worksite. She stressed the sustainability aspect of the project for the Philadelphia and Mexico communities. “You have to ask, ‘How can you bring it beyond the wall.’ ”

The catalyst for the mural was a 2009-2010 artist residency Ortiz had in Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico, in which she painted murals in the two towns and gave mural workshops to local artists.  While there, she met artists David “Mambo” Flores and Juan Carlos “Waka Waffles” Reyes of Colectivo Rezizte and Oscar Gallegos and Antonio Leal of Colectivo Madroño, who she brought to Philadelphia to collaborate on “Aqui y Alla”.

In Philadelphia, Flores, Reyes, Gallegos and Leal helped with the design and collaborated on the painting (they are now back in Mexico). Also collaborating are teens in Juarez and Chihuahua, who are students of the Mexican artists, and local teens from Furness High School, who worked with Ortiz during an 8-week summer program sponsored by the Mural Arts Program. The teens are creating the panels that will go into the two large circles.

Ortiz developed the curriculum for the 8-week summer program with artist Patricia Barrera, to expose the students to new artistic techniques, while also engaging them in journal writing and communal discussions, and creating a safe space in which to share thoughts, fears, and sufferings. The teens, from Mexican, Puerto Rican, and African-American households, studied artists such as Elizabeth Catlett and Graciela Iturbide, and examined political posters from the Civil Rights and Puerto Rican Independence Movements. Ortiz said, “I wanted to show the kids how it is that these works of art were able to compel the community.”

Questions such as “Who am I?”, “Where do I come from?”, and “What do I want to say?” are raised and answered in the mural by Philadelphia students like Fredy, an 18 year old who crossed the U.S.-Mexican border at 10, leaving behind his beloved grandmother who had raised him up til then, to join his mother in Philadelphia. (His mother, who lives in Philadelphia, traveled back to Mexico to take him across the border.)  Fredy created two panels. One reads, “We are workers, not criminals,” inspired by the prejudice he experienced after he began working as a young teen. The second is dedicated to his now deceased grandmother, her portrait painted in the center with roots spreading out from her feet.

Careana, a student originally from Puerto Rico, created a panel that deals with transition, citizenship, and American history. A heart lies in the center as veins form the outlines of the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico – Pennsylvania highlighted as the point of encounter.

Diana, 17, came to Philadelphia from Mexico seven years ago. Her stunning panel is a narrative of the difficulties of immigration. The bird in the cage represents how she felt coming to Philadelphia. “It is so different here than Mexico. Being here, from school to the house, everyday, the same thing. I’m not really happy living here, but I’m accustomed already.”

Full of symbols, the panel represents the teen’s hard times living here – not knowing the language and culture. “I was the first Latina girl in my class.” It also depicts a family tragedy –her father (portrayed on the right) was deported two years ago. “I want people to know how they are separating families without caring.”

While the Philadelphia teens’ panels are finished, the Mexican teens’ panels are still in progress. About his students’ panels, Oscar Gallegos said, “The differences are in the colors and tonalities, but the themes are the same. The problem of immigration is the same, so you see a lot of images of arrows, birds, and walls. The youth are the same youth except that the ones in Mexico stayed. They are mirror images.”

Hopes for “Aqui y Alla” to speak to the South Philadelphia neighborhood run high. Gallegos hopes “First, that the people of the community feel that they are represented in the mural – that they see and feel the questions pertaining to their lives. And second that the mural is a vehicle for the community to communicate.”  Antonio Leal adds his hope that the mural would help break down barriers, such as racism and prejudice, and change people’s perspectives.

Perspectives are already changing, according to a story told by David Flores. A neighbor, who on first being asked about the mural, said “I hate Mexicans,” is now “our number one fan,” says Flores, adding that one morning a shop owner from the Italian Market came by and brought them breakfast.

Even the wall’s owner, Jerry, a first-generation Italian who could connect with the teens’ tales of immigration and cultural identity, made sure to provide plenty of space, giving the artists a key to his garage.

During the two hours I was at the mural site interviewing the artists, several neighbors pushing grocery carts home from the market stopped to admire the progress. Some waved, others commented. One woman said in broken English how beautiful the mural is.

Videographer  Gabby Loredo, the mural’s videographer, thinks many in the neighborhood will connect with the stories the mural tells. “When I first walked by here it was just a rundown little lot. I want it to be a point of pride for the neighborhood.”

“Aquí y Allá” will be officially dedicated in October 2012 with plans to mount an exhibition of the project, as well as to screen a documentary with the immigrant teen stories.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's coming along...

This past weekend, Michelle and Patty installed parachute cloth panels onto the wall. It's almost finished now - only a few finishing touches to go! Here are some process shots of the installation:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We Still Need Your Support!

The "Aqui y Alla" project is successfully moving forward. We are gearing for the completion of the mural by the end of August. But our work still continues...

We have exciting events coming up in October!

-The mural will be dedicated during Mural Arts Month in Philadelphia!

-Images of the process will be in an exhibit at the Mural Arts Program Gallery!

-Previews of our video documentary of the mural process and immigrant youth stories will be screened in October.

There are all these wonderful opportunities but we still need your support! We are still trying to meet our fundraising goal to finalize the video documentary and to bring the four artists from Mexico back to Philadelphia to celebrate with us in October.

Please offer your support and click here!  All proceeds will go directly to our project!!!

Spread the word! Copy and paste this code into your page to display the Feed The Muse widget.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Aqui y Alla" Project in Al Dia Newspaper

Al Dia Newspaper: Arturo Varela
“Un mural no va a solucionar todos los problemas, pero si es una forma de unir a las personas, de darle fuerza a la comunidad, y de iniciar una conversación”, dijo Michelle Angela Ortiz, creadora y directora de “Aquí y Allá”, proyecto que explora, a través del arte mural, el impacto de la inmigración en la vida de jóvenes inmigrantes en el sur de Filadelfia en conexión con jóvenes en el estado mexicano de Chihuahua.
Al otro lado de la frontera, cuatro artistas del Colectivo Rezizte, en la fronteriza Ciudad Juárez, y del Colectivo Madroño, en Chihuahua (200 millas al sur), trabajaron en el proyecto antes de embarcarse en un viaje a Filadelfia. 
A la ciudad del amor fraternal, trajeron consigo paneles pintados en lienzo por jóvenes en sus comunidades —que han sido plagadas por la violencia y sirven de foco de migración interna en México y “de paso” para quienes aspiran cruzar “al otro lado”, aunque muchos acaben quedándose ahí por años...

Para leer mas haga click aqui

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 5: Mixing paint, community meeting, and last day with students.

Today was the last day of the summer session with the students. With the help of Michelle Ortiz, the students mixed all of the colors for the mural. Since it was the last day of the summer session, the students shared their thoughts about what they learned this summer and what they will take with them. Words like friendship, union, pride, accomplished, excitement, grateful, were mentioned over and over again. 

A community meeting was held the same day where the artists met some awesome neighbors that will help paint the mural in the community.

Day 4: Drawing on the Wall

Students visited the Mural Site and helped us draw our beautiful design on the wall...