When Bay Area artist Monica Lundy and Los Angeles gallery-owner Walter Maciel organized the massive group exhibition With Liberty and Justice for Some, they had no idea how prescient it was. The show of 113 artists, which opened on Jan. 7 with the highest attendance Maciel has seen in his 11 years of operation, centers around a group of 82 8-by-8-inch portraits of immigrants, arranged to resemble an American flag. The symbolism is unavoidable.
Back when Donald Trump was still the President-elect, long before his Jan. 27 executive order became a flashpoint for pro-immigrant rallies at airports across the nation, Lundy, like many in her artistic community, felt both helpless and determined to do something, anything, in response to Trump’s presidency.
“We wanted the project to be supportive of some of the communities under attack by this incoming administration,” Lundy told KQED Arts. “That Mexicans are being threatened with deportation, and Muslims, of being shut out, it reminds me of the history of bigotry in this country."
She found a willing partner for the project in Maciel, and the call for portraits of immigrants took shape quickly. Bay Area artists involved in the show include longtime Mills College professor and Chinese-born painter Hung Liu, Phillip Hua, Yulia Pinkusevich, Rodney Ewing, Dave Kim and Soad Kader. Each chose to represent either a close friend or family member, or in the case of Ewing, personal hero and pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey.