It Speaks to Me: Suzanne Lacy on Andrea Bowers

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Suzanne Lacy on Andrea Bowers’ “Nonviolent Civil Disobedience” drawing, 2007, at the Hammer Museum

Elvira Arellano was an immigrant whose son, a U.S. citizen, was born in this country. After years here she faced deportation because she was not documented, and they went into sanctuary at the Adalberto United Methodist church in Chicago. Andrea went there to do a project — video and drawings — around Elvira, exploring one of the most contentious debates in the United States: immigration reform. On this large sheet of paper is an incredibly labor-intensive pencil drawing — a seductive image that draws you in. You wonder: Is this a drawing or a photograph? The large white space and the size and placement of the figure draw us close, to see her humanity and strength in spite of overwhelming social forces. Bowers uses white space and the seductiveness of her craft to engage our imagination, to question our beliefs. I see this as an eloquent plea to pay attention and confront the reality of immigration.

— Artist Suzanne Lacy, as told to Jori Finkel

Click here for other artists on museum pieces that speak to them