Christopher Rodrigues:Immigration & Alienation
May 5 - May 30, 2010

 Man in Suit, 2003                                              Wolf, 2004                                                          Grandmother, 2004                   32“X 23”                                                          34“X 23”                                                            34“X 22”

Acrylic on Canvas in Window Frame, $3000 each

These three paintings are part of an autobiographical series of work, exploring the affects of immigration laws on identity and the resulting social consequences. At the end of my  studies in the  University of Toronto, Visual Department in May 2001 and holding a  British and Canadian duel citizenship, I moved to New York to live with my partner and pursue a career in the Arts. To enter and remain in America, I was asked to forfeit many privileges that I previously assumed were rights in a democratic society.

As an ‘illegal alien’ in New York I was forbidden by law to work or search for work. Since I was required to start making student loan payments, cover living expenses and had no health insurance, I accepted under-the-table art-related work. These politically and socially restraints challenged my efforts to integrate into a new city and culture.

I began to develop a series of paintings, drawings and digital images examining alienation, often resulting as fractured cubist portraits. The most influential movement on my style and technique during this time was Analytical Cubism. By accepting a two-year internship position at the Guggenheim Museum I was allowed to conduct firsthand studies of Picasso & Braque's paintings and drawings. When the Guggenheim was closed to the public, I was allowed to sit in front of the paintings, sketching each line and edge, alone in the Museum. The feeling of these fragmented Cubists works seemed compassionate to my isolated situation.
 Each time I left the country I feared customs would not allow me to return home to New York. My final ‘illegal alien’ crossing was to England for my Grandmothers funeral in 2002. My 2003 marriage advanced my immigration status to 'legal alien'. This allowed me to legally work, yet forbid me to leave the United States until I received my Greencard . It took two and a half years to obtain my Greencard and for the first time in my life my freedom to travel was restricted.
My experience pales in comparison to what undocumented workers in America face today with bill SB1070[i] & ICE[ii]. This series uses my experience to gain insight into the social impact of immigration laws in both America & Canada.

[i] The new Arizona Law bill SB1070, permits police to stop residents merely on the "reasonable suspicion” that they are unlawfully in the country.
[ii] U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative agency in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Formed in 2003 as part of the federal government's response to the 9/11 attacks, ICE's mission is to protect the security of the American people and homeland by vigilantly enforcing the nation's immigration and customs laws. Motivated by a great fear, ICE uses innovative investigative techniques, new technological resources, racial profiling & racism to strip suspects of their rights, freedom and dignity, in the name of national security.