While Motus Theater presented its UndocuAmerica Monologues to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Boulder-based artist Edica Pacha has been installing twelve murals around Denver and Boulder to keep the show's monologues alive.
DACA was executed by then-President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012, to provide a two-year period of deferred deportation for children brought to the U.S. without documentation, as well as a work permit and heightened opportunities for higher education. Motus’s show shared monologues from undocumented immigrants that focused not just on DACA, but on their personal experiences being perceived as outsiders.
Pacha’s murals are double-exposure portraits of those who shared their tales. She first took a picture with a camera, then blew it up, printed it and pasted it on a wall; she believes these murals will be up for at least a year. A QR code can be found next to each of the works, which leads to audio of the mural subject sharing a monologue, making it a “multimedia experience and education platform,” Pacha says.
Pacha says the undocumented immigrants she photographed are “on the front lines of immigration. They're principals of schools, they're badass humans who have good hearts. They're not like whining like, ‘Oh, it's so bad.’ We just need to bring more humanity to the issue, because there are millions of people who are undocumented in the United States. This is a pretty significant thing going on.”
Her favorite part of the project was meeting her subjects. “I get to actually be with these folks and learn about their story and who they are and what it is that they're here doing,” she says. “That’s where I get educated. That's where I've been learning from all of them. My greater work has a lot to do with that connection in the creative process.”
Putting a face to the stories and showcasing them on public buildings is an excellent, community-based way to raise awareness, Pacha says. “The imagery is not focused on the decimated aspect of what's happening in the undocumented world, with ICE and on the borders and whatnot,” she explains. “These images are beautiful. They're inspiring. And that's the direction that I take inside of activism. And you know, an art of activism is being able to use inspiration as an opening to inspire people to want to educate themselves or learn more or take action. Because a lot of times, we're so inundated by imagery that makes us recessed or closed down that our nervous system isn't going to want to do something about it. Whereas if we put these folks in a celebratory spot and then allow them to educate through the words and their wisdom, then people are more likely to take action.”
Pacha received a grant for her project from Denver Arts & Venues’ P.S. You Are Here fund, which aims to support community-led, neighborhood-based projects “that activate city-owned, outdoor public spaces,” according to its website.
“P.S. You Are Here has just a really awesome team to work with,” she says. “They've been really supportive and connected me with a lot of people.”
Pacha has been aligning her art with activism for years. “Over the last three years, I've been really merging my style with these different organizations and groups that I find are really important in what they're doing in the world,” she explains. “The first [collaboration] was with Womxn From the Mountain — they're Indigenous activists. Last year I worked with Project Worthmore, which works with refugees. And then a year ago, I approached Motus Theater, which works with undocumented immigrants. And so I pretty much started the project with them.”
She considers art an essential format to draw people into issues that would otherwise be ignored, and calls it her “deepest passion.”
With this project and others, Pacha aspires “to really utilize the creative process, utilize beauty and inspiration and art on the streets, putting it out into the public eye by using alleys for galleries, and really getting it out there as a platform to create a larger conversation,” she says. “Art has a magnetism that you can connect information to and allow people to get educated about these greater issues.”
Find Pacha’s murals at the following locations:
“Kiara,” Valdez Library, 4690 Vine Street
“Rey,” Schlessman Library, 100 Poplar Street
“Alejandro,” Eugene Field Library, 810 South University Boulevard
“Armando,” RiNo ArtPark, 1900 35th Street
“Laura,” Confluence Park Bike Path, 2250 15th Street
“Irving,” North Boulder Rec Center, 3170 Broadway, Boulder
“Victor,” South Boulder Rec Center, 1360 Gillaspie Drive, Boulder
“Ana,” East Boulder Rec Center, 5660 Sioux Drive, Boulder
“Tania” and “Cristian,” Alley Gallery, 1121 Broadway, Boulder
“Kiara,” Las 10 Americas Carniceria, 2887 30th Street, Boulder
You can see more of Pacha's work at EdicaPacha.com and on her Instagram, @artofPacha.