Aesthetics of Undocumentedness




CuratorLoveVisible/RecordsRasquache Residency 

Sound Justice labUVA Arts Council 


There is no easy way to define undocumentedness and no single definition that stands true across the globe. In the words of Jose Antonio Vargas, “If there are an estimated 45 million immigrants living in America, then there are 45 million ways of being an immigrant in America. Like all groups, we are not a monolith.”[1] Of those forty-five million immigrants, and as per the Department of Homeland Security, eleven million immigrants currently residing in the United States are unauthorized.[2] Borrowing Jose Antonio Vargas’ logic, there are eleven million ways of being undocumented in the United States. Thus, to completely comprehend undocumentedness, and in the words of Federico Cuatlacuatl, one must consider undocumentedness a spectrum.[3] To understand the complexity of belonging to the undocumented community, the undoc+ spectrum and undocumented diaspora emerge to tease out undocumentedness. Individuals within the undoc+ spectrum have lived or are currently living undocumented, whereas individuals in the undocumented diaspora are directly or indirectly affected by undocumentedness but have not embodied undocumentedness themselves. Examples of the undoc+ spectrum are current or former undocumented individuals, while examples of individuals in the undocumented diaspora are children or partners of individuals in the undoc+ spectrum.

Speakers: Jackie Amezquita, MFA from UCLA. Federico Cuatlacuatl, MFA from Bowling Green State University. David Cuatlacuatl, MFA, from Pennsylvania State University. Francisco Donoso, BFA, from the State University of New York. Luis Fidencio Fifield-Perez, MFA, from the University of Iowa. Luis Alvaro Sahagun, MFA from the Northern Illinois University.

Keynote: Erika Hirugami, MA. MAAB. 

Jan 27, 2023

Offsite | Visible/Records

12:00 - 3:00

Community limpias lead by Luis Sahagun

12:00 - 3:00

Zine-making workshop lead by Francisco Donoso 


Exhibition reception: Ruffin Gallery | 5:00-7:00pm 


January 28, 2023

Onsite | University of Virginia Rotunda


Welcome and Introduction
Federico Cuatlacuatl, MFA
Rasquache Residency | UNDOC+Collective 
University of Virginia


Keynote Speaker
Erika Hirugami, MA. MAAB
CuratorLove | UNDOC+Collective 
Claremont Graduate University | University of California Los Angeles


UNDOC+ Artists




Q&A with artist


Screening of Movie COVER/AGE by Set Hernandez Rongkilyo



A migrant is perpetually unfinished.
Instead of a living embodiment of one’s place of origin,
a person is a work of art constantly in revision.[4]

Undocumented immigrants have the supernatural ability to live a life beyond linear time. For the individuals in the undoc+ spectrum, today is withstood with hope that tomorrow will be a return to yesterday. Leaving the comfort of home toward the unknown in the hope of a better future often means leaving our ancestors and children behind, forgetting our memories, constant policing by others, and invisibilizing fragments of self just to survive. As per Audre Lorde, in a society where good is defined in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, there must always be some group of people who, through systematized oppression, can be made to feel surplus and occupy the place of the dehumanized inferior.[5] Across the globe the members of the undoc+ community are tasked to embody said surplus. In the words of Federico Cuatlacuatl, we need to build a future where we see ourselves thriving beyond surviving; this future must become blurred with the past and the present because we exist in multiple temporalities simultaneously.[6]

Speaker Bios:

Jackie Amezquita, MFA

Amezquita is a Central American artist based in Los Angeles, born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, who migrated to the United States in 2003. She holds an MFA from UCLA and a BFA from ArtCenter College of Design, and an AA in Visual Communications from Los Angeles Valley College. 

Her practice has been influenced by her family history of diaspora and her experiences as a formerly undocumented immigrant. In her, work Amézquita explores narratives of migration and how people navigate power structures.Amézquita often incorporates segments of her personal archives to intertwine historical and contemporary references.Amezquita’s work makes use of performances, site-specific activations, and installations and uses organic materials such as masa, soil, salt, hydrated lime, and produce to explore a visual language that explores modes of adaptation and integration in the aftermath of migration. In her practice, Amézquita uses growth and decay to inspire forms of non-verbal communication that speak of the cycles of life transformations and temporality. Amézquita is interested in how living organisms and other entities integrate and create other environments. These ecosystems underline coexistence among diverse beings, reminding us of the life cycle and the afterlife.

More on Amézquita

Federico Cuatlacuatl, MFA 

Federico Cuatlacuatl is an artist born in San Francisco Coapan, Cholula, Puebla, Mexico.  Federico's work is invested in disseminating topics of Nahua indigenous immigration, social art practice, and cultural sustainability. Building from his own experience growing up as an undocumented immigrant and previously holding DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Federico’s creative practice centers on the intersectionality of indigeneity and immigration under a pressing Anthropocene.  At the core of his most recent research and artistic production is the intersection of transborder indigeneity, migrant indigenous diasporas, and Nahua futurisms.  Federico’s independent productions have been screened in various national and international film festivals as well as exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide. As founder and director of the Rasquache Artist Residency in Puebla, Mexico, he actively stays involved in socially engaged works and binational endeavors. 

More on Cuatlacuatl

Francisco Donoso, BFA

Francisco Donoso is a transnational artist based between NYC and Miami. Donoso’s works are embodiments of the human experience where notions of placement and fixed boundaries are questioned to reveal the precariousness of belonging. Originally from Ecuador, but raised in Miami, FL, he's been a recipient of DACA since 2013. He received his BFA from Purchase College and has participated in fellowships and residencies at Wave Hill as a Van Lier Fellow, Stony Brook University, The Bronx Museum Artist in the Marketplace, and the Kates-Ferri Projects Residency among others. Francisco has participated in solo and group exhibitions throughout the US in NYC notably at El Museo del Barrio, The Bronx Museum of Arts, Children's Museum of Manhattan, Wave Hill, Kates-Ferri Projects and Field Projects, in Miami at Club Gallery, in Virginia at Second Street Gallery, in Los Angeles during SPRING/BREAK, and Las Vegas, and in Berlin. He is a recipient of an Artist Corp Grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a Cultural Solidarity Fund Grant. 

Donoso’s work has been written about in Hyperallergic, CRUSHfanzine, The Latinx Project Intervenxions, The Financial Times, The Village Voice, and Art Zealous among others. He is the owner of the online shop, Donoso Studio, an immigrant-powered design studio specializing in uniquely handcrafted art objects. He is the founder of The Undocu Spark Lab, a creative incubator and nomadic classroom for undocumented artists, fiscally sponsored by the New York State Youth Leadership Council. He is represented by Kates-Ferri Projects in NYC. 

More on Donoso

Luis Fidencio Fifield-Perez, MFA

Fidencio Fifield-Perez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and raised in the United States after his family migrated. His practice critiques the authority given to paper objects over the people they document. Recent works reincarnate discarded maps and envelopes as papel picado and ex-votos, referencing the crafts and customs he learned to celebrate festivals and mourn the dead in Oaxaca. These techniques ground Fifield-Perez in experiences that preceded and came after the defining moment of crossing the border.

Fifield-Perez received his BFA from Memphis College of Art and an MA & MFA from The University of Iowa. He has exhibited at multiple institutions, including The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, and the International Print Center New York. He is currently the inaugural Dr. Harold R. Adams Artist-in-Residence Fellow at The University of Minnesota.

More on Fifield-Perez

Erika Hirugami, MA. MAAB

Hirugami is a first-generation Mexican immigrant, formerly undocumented.

She holds a MAAB from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, in conjunction with the Drucker School of Management and Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University, and an MA in Chicanx Studies from UCLA. Hirugami also holds BAs in the fields of Art History, Chicano Studies, and Mexican Studies from UCLA. She is currently a lecturer and doctoral candidate at UCLA, where she challenges the aesthetics of undocumentedness through contemporary Latinx art.

Hirugami is the founder and CEO of CuratorLove, the ED at AHSC, a Professor at SMC, the 2021 Arts for LA Fellow, and a 2022 NALAC NLI Fellow. As a Getty and Kress Foundation Fellow, she has developed curatorial statements at museums across Mexico and United States. After being a Public Art Curator for the Department of Cultural Affairs in the City of Los Angeles, Hirugami became the Curatorial Director for the Ronald McDonald House Charities and has led various galleries while becoming a visiting lecturer for Universities across the country. She has curated exhibitions for multiple spaces across the globe, and her written work has been published internationally.

More on Hirugami

Luis Sahagun, MFA

Luis Sahagun was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in 1982. He cultivates civic activations for community members, students, and other educators alike. A unique element fueling his social art practice is his experience growing up feeling invisible to society because he was Brown, undocumented, and poor, making him privy to perceptions that most people have not been exposed to in academia. He uses the residue of those traumas to guide the development of meaningful performances, public interventions, discussions, and workshops.

He has exhibited at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, Roswell, NM; The National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL; the International Exposition of Contemporary Art (expo) Chicago, IL; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; amongst many others.  Additionally, his work has been covered in publications such as: ArtForum, ChicagoMag, NewCity Magazine, New American Paintings, and the Chicago Tribune. His practice has also been spotlighted on the radio, podcasts, and television networks such as MundoFOX, UNIVISION, and WBEZ-NPR.  Sahagun has held residencies at Roswell, NM, Oaxaca, MX, Chicago Artist Coalition, Mana Contemporary in Miami, and was an Artist in Residence for Critical Race Studies at Michigan State University. A 3Arts Awardee, he received his undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University- Carbondale, an MFA at Northern Illinois University. 

More on Sahagun

Nicole Solis-Sison, BFA

Multi-racial Filipinx visual artist, writer, producer, and creative director. Her work focuses on cultural equity, diversity, and sustainability in digital discourse across the art, media, and film industries. Nicole is a proud founding member of the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, a nationwide organization that tackles systemic inequities facing undocumented immigrants in the media field. Nicole received her BFA at

the University of California, Berkeley. She is the recipient of the 2016 Eisner Award for the Highest Achievement in the Arts. More recently, Nicole is a 2022 Define American Fellow and 2022 Sundance Asian American Fellow. 

More on Solis-Sison


Symposium organized by the UNDOC+Collective 

in partnership with CuratorLove, Rasquache Residency, Art History Graduate Association

Visible/Records, Sound Justice lab, UVA Department of Art, and supported by an Arts Enhancement Grant from the Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts.



[1] Jose Antonio Vargas, “If There Are an Estimated 45 Million Immigrants Living in America, Then There Are 45 Million Ways of Being an Immigrant in America. Like All Groups, We Are Not a Monolith.,” accessed May 14, 2022,

[2] Bryan Baker, “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2015–January 2018,” 2021,

[3] Erika Hirugami, “In Conversation with Federico Cuatlacuatl” (Virginia | Los Angeles, May 7, 2022).

[4] David Cuatlacuatl 

[5]  Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” in Gender Through The Prism of Difference, ed. Maxine Baca Zinn, Third (New York • Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 245.

[6] Federico Cuatlacuatl in conversation with Erika Hirugami, Aug 12, 2022.