Hundreds of people all over the nation are taking their photos and posting them on public spaces as part of “Inside Out 11M,” an art project that hopes to give a face to the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
“11M is a number, but each one of these portraits shares a story,” said event organizer Tony Herbas, who has been traveling through numerous states with the project. “Our purpose is to spark conversation, to bring awareness so that people can come together and share their experiences, their stories.”
Inside Out 11M, which began in July, is a side project of Inside Out, a global participatory art project started by artist JR.
“Our project is focused on supporting the immigration reform but it’s totally aside from any political affiliation,” Herbas said. “We are just supporting the common sense, the humanity, different communities and cultures.”
Herbas and other organizers of the project travel the country in two small trucks. The west coast truck began its journey in California and recently stopped in Texas. The east coast truck began in Washington D.C. and recently stopped in Florida.
Other cities that have been part of the project include Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Nevada, Alabama and Colorado.
The traveling truck, which is decorated in black and white polka dots, is equipped with a closed space to take the pictures and a giant printer.
The portraits come out through an opening on the side of the truck and volunteers then help glue the pictures to a public space, creating a massive mosaic of portraits.
“It’s a creative way to reach out o people who perhaps are not involved or are not interested in the situation,” said Lis Alvarado, who works with the immigration advocacy group We Count. “This is different than our protests, than our letters to the senators. This is just another way to call out for immigration reform.”
For Colombian immigrant, Liliana Lahoz, taking her picture was a way to show others that she fully supports an immigration reform.
“I came here with a student visa, worked hard and had to live undocumented for a period of time,” said Lahoz, who was taking pictures with her mom, sister and daughter. “I’m an American citizen now, but I still have family members and friends who are going through this process and it’s hard.”
The majority of the people participating in the project have heard about it through social media. Herbas said their biggest advertisement has been done through Instagram.
“I found out it through Instagram and I’ve never experienced any immigration issue,” said Kristabel Delgado, who recently took her portrait. “But this is creative and it can make a big impact because people love pictures. When something is interesting, people listen.”
The project uses the hashtag #InsideOut11M and the pictures taken become a public story of support for immigration reform.
The next stops for the Inside Out 11M project include North Carolina, Arizona and New York, where the project is expected to end in September.
“Behind every portrait there is a story,” Herbas said. “It’s more than a number.”