At the entrance to “Uncaged Art” we are told there is a saying that the Quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala, cannot be caged or it will die.
This exhibit at the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus shows the work of mostly Central American immigrant teenagers ranging in age from 13-17 who were kept at the camp in Tornillo. This was the largest detention center for children in the US with some 2500 children being kept at its height before closing this past January.
With the help of two instructors, detainees made art with what was at hand. The instructors suggested they create images which reminded them of home. The result is a series of drawings and sculptures with scenes of the quetzal, churches and home life.
In many ways heartbreaking, yet also a testament to the resilience of these kids in what must have been an unimaginably difficult emotional time.
The exhibit is up through October. – david sokolec