All posts tagged: immigration

“Aliens, That’s What They Called Them”- Molly Crabapple on the Streets

“Aliens, That’s What They Called Them”- Molly Crabapple on the Streets

“I left all my memories in Syria, so there’s nothing left to take”.

“Husband works in construction. Husband salary depends on luck, waits on side of the street to get picked”.

“Prefer by land, but by sea if there’s no choice”.

“I have no dreams in Europe. I just want my husband to get a proper job, a proper life for my children”.

“I will bring nothing with me”.

“For sure, I’m nervous”.

And so these are their stories, their troubles, their worries. People who are compelled to migrate from their lands in search of a better life and brighter conditions have little choice or no choices at all. They are among the most vulnerable of humans walking on earth. Their plight gets made even worse by the cruelty and greed of their fellow humans, by the indifference of governments, which many times use them as political pawns and by nature. Harsh conditions at sea or at inhospitable land crossings may fatally end their journey.

A Molly Crabapple piece on the street – surrounded by quotes with a piece by Raddington Falls to the left. (photo @ Jaime Rojo)

The irony of this drawing of an immigrant mother with her son carefully placed next to an “alien” cartoon is not lost on us. By labeling the immigrants who come to this country as “aliens” the authorities deem to strip them of their dignity, their character and make them into something strange, different, void of consideration and worth. By being called “aliens” these humans are being lumped together into a cultureless subgroup with no defining characteristics on their own. The label allows the immigration department to treat them all as law-breakers, offenders of the norm.

The current “crisis” at the southern border comes as a surprise every year during this time of the year. Due to better climate conditions on the southern border immigrants from Central American countries take on a journey fraught with danger first through Mexico where they fell prey to criminal gangs, violent cartel groups, and human trafficking networks. If they are lucky to make it all the way to the border with the USA, their problems are often amplified by hypocritical, posturing, and cynical politicians hoping to get a sound bite on Fox News so they can use it in the next fundraising letter.

Yes, human migration is a crisis. It is a global crisis with roots in wars, ethnic cleansing, natural disasters, and, corrupt and authoritarian governments all over the world who steal from the treasury and pretend to care and lead but have little to no intention to seriously invest in infrastructure, education, real security and health programs to keep their citizens from leaving their homes, their families, and their roots.

The collusion of law enforcement with drug cartels and criminal gangs creates all war conditions for anybody to live and prosper. Children and young adults are forced to hide and quit their education as the simple routine of walking to school and back home becomes an act of hide and seek, run and stop just to evade getting caught in a cross fire or just simply getting caught and never seen again.

President Biden succinctly and without hesitation put the matter to rest when the somnolent and apathetic members of the White House press pretended to ask hard questions at his first press conference. “They don’t come here because I’m a nice guy,” he told them, and suggested that rather than pouring billions of dollars in erecting measures to combat immigration at home the funds should go directly to the suffering people of Central America to improve their living conditions so they remain at home rather than embark on a dangerous journey that most certainly will turn into hell.

But this solution might not be good enough for those who are looking for culture wars to score points and for the press who need identity politics to keep the ratings up.

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“Stars and Bricks” Go Up on a Berlin Wall from Various & Gould

“Stars and Bricks” Go Up on a Berlin Wall from Various & Gould

“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

― Joseph Fort Newton, Southern Baptist minister from Texas (1876–1950)

And yet, talk again turns to the building of a contiguous wall along the southern border of the US.

Even though the wall is part of an Executive Order from President Trump, some say that in reality it is unlikely to happen because we still have in effect those complicating features of democracy where citizens actually disagree with one another and we are forced to reach a consensus. Not to mention the damage to relations with our 3nd largest trading partner with which goods and services traded totaled an estimated $583.6 billion in 2015.

Various & Gould Stars and Bricks Berlin, January 2017. (photo @ Various & Gould)

It’s complete irony that the current Republican president is demanding a wall to be built when the nearly sainted architect of trickle-down small-government hands-off-the-corporations revolution, Ronald Reagan, is famous for having said to the then Russian president “Mr. Gorbachev: Tear down this wall” nearly 30 years. Likely Gorbachev has different opinions about the current president.

Berliners will tell you that their wall was incredibly damaging to the economies and more importantly, the people and the cultures who lived on both sides of it from 1961 to 1989. In fact the mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller said in a statement Friday, according to a translation by the Washington Post.

“We cannot simply accept that all our historic experiences are being thrown into disarray by the ones we have to thank most for our freedom: the Americans. I call on the U.S. President to not go down this wrong track of isolation and exclusion.”

Various & Gould Stars and Bricks Berlin, January 2017. (photo @ Various & Gould)

Which leads us to this new piece from Berlin based Street Artist duo Various & Gould, who have just wheatpasted a re-designed American flag with the red strips as bricks, partially eating into the stars.

“We made it straight from the guts after reading about Trump’s press conference on Jan. 11th. Among other things he was talking again about building the wall,” V&G tells BSA of the genesis for the new piece made in their studio and taken to the street.

“At first our design was just meant as sort of a visual web comment, but in the days following we decided to make a big poster of it and bring it to the streets,” they say.

Various & Gould Stars and Bricks Berlin, January 2017. (photo @ Various & Gould)

Anytime a nations flag is redesigned or reconfigured some may infer it is a sign of disrespect, but V&G say they are just extremely worried. “Needless to say – it’s not in any way anti-American. In the contrary we fear for the America we know and think of our friends in the US! Trump’s Twitter politics will have an impact on the whole world.”

The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees entirely and used Twitter to say so. “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea,” he tweeted. Freelance writer, author, film maker William Parry says in his opinion piece in Al Jazeera “Israel’s separation wall as an example of a valid security measure is based on gross ignorance, at best.”

So there will likely be ongoing disagreement. Certainly the world is watching and reacting.

Various & Gould Stars and Bricks Berlin, January 2017. (photo @ Various & Gould)

Various & Gould Stars and Bricks Berlin, January 2017. (photo @ Various & Gould)

Various & Gould Stars and Bricks Berlin, January 2017. (photo @ Various & Gould)

Various & Gould Stars and Bricks Berlin, January 2017. (photo @ Various & Gould)

V&G have created a downloadable version for you of their new design below. Just click on #StarsAndBricks.

This article was also published on The Huffington Post.

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Ernesto Yerena: Art Without Borders

Ernesto Yerena knows about borders. The Mexican-American has been crossing them since he was born on the national border in tiny El Centro, CA. Now the 24 year old is crossing the border from Obey Giant studio assistant to featured artist in his first solo show at White Walls Gallery in San Francisco this Saturday.

Photo © Todd Mazer

For the past few months Ernesto has been at work in his garage/studio in Los Angeles preparing. With help of the talented photographer Todd Mazer, we get to see these exclusive images of Ernesto finishing his final piece for the show, “Ganas 20/20”.

For someone with an acute eye and the sensitivity of an artist, growing up in a border town 15 minutes from Mexicali, daily life in such a culturally rich and tumultuous environment can also be a wellspring of inspiration. The mundane, daily crossing over the border after school as a boy to visit with his grandmother and family in Mexicali, gave him insight into the complex lives of families who just happen to be geographically sprouted along an invisible political dotted line. Today that dotted line has razor wire that cuts everyone it touches.

Photo © Todd Mazer

Ernesto began some cutting of his own when he received a stencil cutting set for his tenth birthday from his grandfather. During time away from his business painting cars and doing auto-body repair, his father encouraged the boys’ painting projects and showed him how to cut stencils. As a youth Ernesto felt motivated and supported by his family to go to art school and sharpen his artistic skills.

As he got older, the geopolitical realities of the harsh cultural and social landscape where he was growing awakened his intellectual curiosity and desire to better understand his social surroundings.

A teen listening to his own bi-national music collection including Public Enemy and Mexican rockers Mana, he got a better handle on the underlying racism and social inequities that plague the American landscape. When his artistic chops got him an opportunity at age 19 to work alongside Shepard Fairey, the street artist known for frequently incorporating social justice and political themes into his work, Ernesto found a stronger voice.

Ernesto’s world of two countries, difficult border life, socially conscious music, a deep interest in history and human rights have prepared him to face, as an artist, the recent fierce issue of immigration in this country and in Arizona in particular. In collaboration with Shepard he produced, at his imprint “Hecho Con Ganas” or HCG,  one of the posters that protesters in Arizona have used as a tool to denounce the racist and demonizing rhetoric coloring the immigration debate as well as SB1070, a bill that codifies racial profiling into law.

This Saturday night Ernesto crosses another invisible border as the White Walls Gallery provides a space for his new work in his first solo show.

Photo © Todd Mazer

Photo © Todd Mazer

Photo © Todd Mazer

Photo © Todd Mazer

Photo © Todd Mazer

Photo © Todd Mazer

Photo © Todd Mazer

Click on the link below to visit Ernesto’s “imprint” HCG (Hecho Con Ganas)

Hecho Con Ganas

Ernesto’s solo show “Ganas 20/20” Opens this Saturday, November 13 at the White Walls Gallery in San Francisco. The gallery is located at 835 Larking Street. San Francisco, CA. 94109

Thanks again to photographer and videographer Todd Mazer for these images he shot exclusively for Brooklyn Street Art.

To see more of Todd Mazer work click here:

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“Bienvenidos”: Street Artist YOTE Puts His Art Where His Heart Is

Hospitality is one of our virtues throughout history…  Along with periodic phases of racism and immigrant bashing.


For Fall 2010, brown is the new black and Arizona is working the runway with Jan Brewer on the catwalk!  But let’s not all lose our heads, neighbors. Street Artist YOTE is firing up the grill and putting the ignorance on ice to welcome the Spanish speakers for an Indian Summer barbecue in Arizona (which used to be part of Mexico).

“Bienvenidos”; It’s Biblical, for those who profess to live by the teachings of that book. Judeo-Christian values. Welcome, Bienvenidos. The Pilgrims certainly relied on those values when arriving to Plymouth for a better life and the American Indians practiced hospitality even without reading the guests’ holy book..


Since this is campaign season in the US and Arizona symbolizes the most recent immigrant-bashing wave, Street Artist YOTE has created colorful messaging to at least divert some of the hate toward a more sane and healthy discussion about immigration in this country. The “Bienvenidos” Campaign posters are meant to remind the kind-hearted among us to speak up and practice hospitality to the newest immigrants in our midst. To raise funds for his signs (as all real campaigns must) he’s got a limited edition of signed posters for your house. The proceeds of the sales of this poster will help him fund his project.


YOTE describes the campaign:

“Over the summer of 2010 I have experienced very contradicting feelings for the state of Arizona. It was not hard to see how laws like 1070, 2281 and 287(g) have caused fear to spread through local communities, the state, and the rest of the country. By juxtaposing the Arizona state flag with the word “Bienvenidos”, I hope to spread a positive and affirming message throughout our communities. This symbol will appear as a political campaign sign leading to the November 2nd election. Additionally this symbol will appear as a sticker for residences, business and rebels who wish to express that all people are welcome in their homes, stores and communities. My intention is that the “Bienvenidos” symbol will spread throughout the state to be both a visible resistance to laws like 1070 and a representation of the hope for safer communities in the state of Arizona and beyond.  All proceeds from the limited edition of signed posters will go to the production of “Bienvenidos” campaign signs and stickers. Thank you.”



Here’s a LINK to his “Bienvenidos” print:

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