‘Inside Out/11M’ puts a face on the issue of immigration reform

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LOS ANGELES  –  On Monday, a mobile photo booth truck, a group of young artists, and eager young Angelenos turned the office facade of a non-profit organization in Los Angeles into a monument that literally puts a face on the issue of immigration reform.

Through a partnership with the “Inside Out/11M” project, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) took part in a nationwide participatory art initiative that seeks to create a portrait that depicts the real diversity of America. Through the event, Advancing Justice-LA sought to highlight the need for sensible immigration reform.

Advancing Justice-LA allowed its office on Wilshire Boulevard to be used as an art canvass. Community members  (which included undocumented individuals, citizens, green card holders, and others) had their pictures taken at an Inside Out/11M photo booth truck and posted their photos on the nonprofit’s building facade.

According to an advisory, Advancing Justice-LA sought to communicate the message that immigrants are an integral and interwoven part of our diverse society. Advancing Justice-LA argued that immigration reform impacts not only immigrants but everyone: families, schools, workplaces, and communities.

Inside Out 11/M photo booth trucks travel across cities on the East and West Coast, to generate awareness and execute “photo sorties” in their campaign to advocate for immigration reform. They make stops at different locations, different congressional districts, different iconic spots in cities, and into immigrant communities where they partner with different organizations to get the word out.

“We bring the truck to the community. People get their photo taken. It instantly prints out into a giant poster, which is is exciting for many people. And then we immediately get to paste it up the wall,” Inside Out/11M project coordinator Sara Anthony said.

At the end of the day, the final output is a wall mosaic that shows portraits of the people within the community in support of immigration reform. Anthony said that people travel from all over the country to follow the photo trucks to have their pictures taken and to participate in the project.

“It ends up being a real portrait of the diversity of America. It shows that we’re all part of the same American community and we need to embrace that,” she added.

Anthony explained that the project is an empowering experience for participants in the sense that they are able to put their portraits alongside those of other people who stand in solidarity for that specific advocacy.

“Inside Out/11M” is a part of the Inside Out project launched by award-winning artist JR — recipient of the 2011 TED prize.

Anthony explained that JR’s idea behind the project was to humanize the faces behind the numbers in different social issues, that behind the numbers are real human stories.

Photos can be accessed on the Internet via www.insideoutproject.net/11m, or via Facebook on www.Facebook.com/insideout11m. The project also has an Instagram account, @insideout11m.

Anthony Ng, a Fil-Am policy advocate with Advancing Justice-LA, said that he himself took part in one of Inside Out’s sorties in Washington, DC.

“It’s really great to put a face onto the issue. It’s really visual,” Ng said.

He said that when we talk about immigration reform, it doesn’t necessarily mean that only undocumented people are affected.

“We know somebody that’s going to be affected by it. It can be a family member, a friend, or your coworker, or somebody you just met. It’s going to have an impact in our lives in a very substantial way,” Ng added.

(LA Midweek August 14-16, 2013 Sec A pg.4) 

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