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John Sevigny | Mexico

Migrant shelter graffiti

This collection of portraits of Central American immigrants was taken at the Belen Posada del Migrante, a shelter in the northern Mexican city of Saltillo.

Some 100 years after Lewis W. Hine started work on his Ellis Island portraits, I wanted to create a distinct document of what Latin American immigrants look like in hopes of giving faces to the numbers spouted out by Lou Dobbs, Pat Buchanan, and others who equate immigration with crime.

A subplot of this project is the particularly male desire to travel for the sake of traveling.

Many immigrants who get to Saltillo do not continue their journey to the United States, but return their home countries. Many seem to have found what they were looking for on the road.

The Devil's Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea, Back Bay Books, 2004

Belen Posada del Migrante, Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico




The strength of this project is rooted in guidance, suggestions and encouragement from a list of people too long to list here. They include Chicago curator, teacher and artist Teresa Parker; Jackie Campbell; Bishop Raul Vera; Father Pedro Pantoja; Alberto Xicotencatl; everyone at Belen Posada del Migrante; photographer Diana Castillo; Ana Laura de Leon; James Sevigny; and Rusty Ennemoser.

Nomads is dedicated to my father, the late Richard Sevigny, who spent a lifetime teaching his stubborn and difficult son that "cameras are only clever toys unless they're used to describe the human condition."

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