Coming of age in Oakland’s Fruitvale community, there were a few things that rose to the level of certainty: a) come Saturday morning, my neighborhood would be alive with a blaring mix of vintage R&B soul and mariachi music, b) messages delivered at my school assemblies would be translated into at least two languages, and c) I’d hear one expression so often, at times I’d start to despise it: melting pot. As a child, the phrase prompted me to imagine a gigantic cast iron witch’s pot, perched on a makeshift fire, as multicolored glittery confections cascaded inside and joined the circular rhythm of an ore-sized wooden spoon. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I had a penchant for daydreaming.
Now, more than 25 years later and more than 3,000 miles away, Dominican-born New York-based designer Lizania Cruz has translated that melting-pot ethos into a powerful message for the newly inaugurated president. She calls it, simply, Flowers for Immigration.
When one thinks of protest art, one doesn’t often immediately think of flower arrangement. But in bringing together flowers of different countries, not only do the women of Flowers for Immigration create floral microcosms of the country’s diversity; in their carefully thought-out selections, they also make as much of a statement as a towering, colorful freeway mural. And in doing so, they remind us that even our seemingly small daily acts can be an artistic expression of something much more significant.