In September 2020, our daughter planned to travel from Miami to Armenia to do some volunteer work. The first flight had only a few passengers. She excitedly texted that she had the whole economy row to herself! As she headed from the first flight to the second, she was stopped by authorities and brought by the police to a locked facility for detainees and asylum seekers. Spain was concerned about its rising COVID-19 cases. They quickly decided to prevent passengers from entering the airport terminal by detaining them. Through the authorities and an asylum counselor, our daughter was ordered to return on the same airline to the city she had departed from. Clad in the clothes that she wore on the flight; she spent days washing her underwear in the women’s sink and drying it using the wall hand dryer. Eight nights and days later, she returned to Miami even more determined to travel to Armenia.
Daisy Quezada Ureña’s porcelain undergarment exhibit, pictured here, details a much more powerful story. The journey into the unknown; the journey of crossing borders in pursuit of a better life; the journey of imposed borders that keep people in and keep them out.
It is impossible not to be moved by the exhibit of this visual artist and educator and all that it tells us about the risks, the dangers that people take to move from one place to another. Ureña created this installation to depict nine indigenous women.
As you view the photo of this exhibit:
- Imagine the women’s courageousness on behalf of themselves and others.
- Imagine the fear that they must have experienced removing their most intimate of garments simply to engage in the act of washing them.
The themes of immigration, fleeing a homeland, being an undocumented citizen, inclusion versus exclusion, living with uncertainty, and living in poverty are all represented here as are many other themes and possibilities for exploration.
What is most important is how open we, the audience, are to listening and considering whether to open our hearts and minds or to stay closed just like imposing borders do.