Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief
Do justly now, walk humbly now.
You are not obligated to complete the work
But neither are you free to abandon it.
I was compelled to start this artwork when I first heard about the separation of children at the border and saw them held in concentration camps in the U.S. I felt helpless. But I knew I couldn’t feel despair or immobilized and from out of that struggle this artwork came.
My art is based on the 14 Stations of the Cross that are images used to commemorate the events Jesus experienced before his crucifixion and death. Thirty years ago I went to El Salvador. At the University of Central America’s chapel I was greatly moved by large drawings that portray torture victims. They use these images as their Stations of the Cross. This inspired me and when I returned to the states I created Stations of the Cross that connected the suffering of the Salvadoran people with Jesus' suffering .
In 2019 I revisited this art. In these new Stations Jesus is embodied in the people seeking asylum in our country. This is the art you see here.
I began by reading, sketching and immersing myself in the experience of migrants.
The 1st Station is a portrayal of young people detained by Border Patrol. I imagined the kid’s terror and also the parents who don’t know where their children are. For the 2nd Station I imagined what it would be like to carry your children for thousands of miles or packing everything you own in a small backpack. For the 6th Station I was influenced by a photo of a Border Patrol agent cruelly pouring out water people had left as humanitarian aid. I thought how shameful that such a basic human need had been politicized. In the 11th Station I tried to show the irreparable trauma that happens to a child that no one picks up or comforts. I struggled with the 12th Station the most. I decided to portray a candlelight vigil to show respect for the children who have died seeking asylum. I also created ofrendas to honor them.
All of the final drawings are all in pen and pencil and I finished them with a border of barbed wire. After I completed the art I collaborated with Kat Rodriguez and many others to write a companion piece so that people could use these Stations as a devotional.
At this time in our world it is very easy to become scared and want to shrink our hearts. My hope is that these stations open us up to the immense suffering happening at our border that worsens every day. I pray people of faith will respond with love and mercy and action.
Michelina Nicotera-Taxiera (March 20, 2020)