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2020 Annual Conference


March 05-08, 2020

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2020 SPE Annual Conference: Hosted by The University of Houston | Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts | School of Art

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Past SPE Annual Conferences

Lupita Murillo Tinnen

SPE Member since 2001
Member Chapter: South Central

American DREAM

Throughout my photographic career, the subject of my work has been the Mexican immigrant and undocumented community. It is special to me because my parents are Mexican immigrants. While I was raised in American culture, I was also raised in an undocumented culture and my parents lived in fear for many years. The focus of my current body of work is on undocumented college students. Year after year, thousands of law-abiding high school students, who are undocumented, graduate without being able to plan for the future, and others are removed from their homes to countries they barely know.

I am very passionate about the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act and I use my photography to give these undocumented students an identity. The DREAM Act is a bipartisan proposal, which would create a pathway to citizenship for thousands of young students who were brought to the United States years ago as infants and young children and through no fault of their own, are undocumented. Each of these otherwise law-abiding students came to the United States from different countries at different ages and they all want to be allowed an opportunity to pursue a pathway to be American. The United States, for many, is the only country they know. Through my photography, I am able to bring attention to the political issue. Most opponents of the DREAM Act argue that every undocumented person is an "illegal immigrant" and lump them into the same category. However, these young people who were brought to the US by their parents had no say in the matter and are caught in the middle of a failed immigration system.

Through the details and objects found in the bedrooms, I show how they are American in every sense except unlike the average American student, once these undocumented students graduate from college, they will be unable to obtain a job. I have chosen not to show their faces so as not to disclose their true identity yet I want to show their existence. In addition, I have added text to the images to give each person the opportunity to share their personal stories and feelings. Each image is titled with the age they were brought to the United States and their college major. All of the students I photograph have demonstrated a commitment to hard work and are currently attending various colleges around North Texas. These educated students want nothing more than to be able to contribute to the only country they know and love.

Age 3, Culinary Arts/ASL

Age 2, Interdisciplinary Studies

Age 14, American Sign Language

Age 13, Electrical Engineering

Age 8, International Studies/International Relations

Age 3, Marketing

Five-Day Fasting (Part 1 of Diptych)

Five-Day Fasting (Part II of Diptych)

Age 18 months, Art

Age 15, Criminal Justice (Part I of Diptych)

Age 15, Criminal Justice (Part II of Diptych)

Age 14, Business

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