I became interested in belonging in 2017, when racist, xenophobic rhetoric and policies made immigrants feel unsafe and as though they didn’t belong.
Over five weeks in 2017 at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I developed a project that invited the public to share their stories about places of belonging. I also conducted workshops with Working Classroom, a youth arts program in the historic Barelas neighborhood, and Saranam, a housing and education program for homeless families. Then, I selected 13 places to commemorate with hand-painted signs, which I installed on site whenever possible. I created a zine with maps and narratives in the contributors’ own words about their places of belonging. During workshops and an open studio event, I created an interactive map to invite more participants to map their or their families’ migrations, and connect those journeys to places of belonging in Albuquerque.
I wanted to amplify everyday people’s narratives at the intersection of place and identity. I was curious about the pivotal experiences that shape one’s sense of belonging and connectedness to a place and country, which ultimately define authentic selves. I was motivated to insert personal, humanizing stories and promote principles of inclusion into public spaces.
*Developed in Sanitary Tortilla Factory’s first artist-in-residence program.
Zine (project components overview)
Process: workshop, questionnaires, sketches, sign-painting
Zine (cover, citywide map, quadrant map, and stories of belonging)
Belonging Sign #1: 2nd Street SW, Nominated by Jessamyn Lovell
Belonging Sign #10: Saranam, Nominated by Gabby, Yudima Valdes Mesa
Belonging Sign #1: The Cooperage, Nominated by Yudima Valdes Mesa
Installation view (migration mapping exercise)
Participants add places to a collective map
Installation view (places of belonging mapping exercise)