By Grant Utter
Titled “Documenting the Undocumented in the South,” the exhibition rejects any singular narrative of the American immigrant experience and depicts the breadth of their stories — the joy and the heartbreak, the anger and the warmth — as they grapple with the country’s immigration system.
Cambrón herself became undocumented at just seven years old when she immigrated from Michoacán, Mexico to Atlanta, where she grew up on Buford Highway, just a few minutes from Oglethorpe University.
As an artist, she has endeavored to celebrate the humanity of her fellow immigrants. Her work makes space for the complexity of the individual and celebrates the verve of a community that strives together.
There is a gravity to immigrants’ stories, however, that Cambrón also wishes to portray. In her upcoming exhibit at Oglethorpe, she presents dense topics like racism, cruelty and injustice in detention and incarceration, among more alleviating and hopeful imagery of family bonds and traditions to capture the certain complexity specific to immigrants.
“Yehimi Cambrón’s exhibition presents her new body of work and starts OUMA’s year-long celebration of Latine/Hispanic culture,” notes OUMA Director Elizabeth Peterson Jennings.
“OUMA is fortunate to host her first solo exhibition in Atlanta and to facilitate the connections it will provide for Oglethorpe students — 25% of whom are Latine/Hispanic. Our goal with this and other programs to come over this year is to celebrate and reflect the culture of our students while we deepen our commitment to the Latine/Hispanic community and community partners such as El Refugio and We Love Buford Highway.”
OUMA’s exhibition coordinator Sophia Sobrino ’24 — a rising senior and artist herself — has been instrumental in realizing this exhibition. Sobrino has had a unique opportunity to serve as a curatorial assistant and studio assistant to Cambrón as she finishes two works of art on site and devises an approach to a complex layout and installation.
During the upcoming academic year, Sobrino and several other students will be developing and leading bilingual English/Spanish tours for this and two more major exhibitions of Latine/Hispanic artists.
This is not the first time the university has worked with the Atlanta artist. Cambrón recently participated in Oglethorpe’s Coalition and Community Building: Supporting Georgia’s Undocumented Students in Higher Education conference, where she spoke about her art and activism for immigrants.
Earlier this year, the artist also included depictions of three Oglethorpe students in a mural celebrating immigrant soccer fans, a project for the Atlanta United soccer team at Underground Atlanta.
The exhibition will be on view at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art June 23 – October 15.