Executive Order: Poetic Erasures
An exhibition of work by first and second generation artists from Balboa High School that highlights their own perspectives on immigration.
Opening Reception: Friday, April 27, 2018 | 6-8 p.m.
Executive Order: Poetic Erasures is an exercise in subverting power. Under the leadership of writer in residence Ingrid Rojas Contreras, fourteen to sixteen year old first and second-generation immigrants from Balboa High School created poems by redacting President Trump’s fourth executive order—“Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” a text that states, among other things, that shielding undocumented immigrants harms America, that many undocumented immigrants have been previously incarcerated, and that Sanctuary Cities are in violation of federal law. Using Sharpies and White Out, the students kept words that expressed their personal views and feelings about immigration, conveying a new and positive statement about the role of immigrants in our society.
It speaks volumes that Executive Order No. 13768 does not actually contain the word “immigrant.” Rather, it contains the word “alien”—a derogatory term the State has employed since the beginning of the Republic to refer to its immigrants. The students’ poems reclaim the term “alien” and imagine a government that humanely shields and values the lives and contributions of immigrants. With the help of artist Miguel Arzabe, the students filled the surface of their reconstituted executive order with vibrant color. These poetic erasures establish a new balance of power—where the future sets a more inclusive policy agenda.
Artists: Abisai A., Jesus A., José A., Neil B., Roger C., Michelle C., Emily C., Lussy C., Yesenia D., Jose E., Antonio G., Leandro G., Luis H., Samantha H., Sandy H., Diego J., Allen L., Bryan L., Thwai L., Toan L., Zoey L., Alejandro M., Chelsea M., Hong N., Eduardo P., Johanna P., Kevin W., Solay Y., Xiaoyi Y., Jessica Z., and Minjing Z.
Organized by SFAC WritersCorp teaching artist Ingrid Rojas Contreras, this exhibition is part of SFAC Galleries program series Sanctuary City.