Artist shares his struggle as an undocumented citizen through art

Fidencio Fifield-Perez talks about his experience being smuggled into the U.S., his life and what inspires his art in the Beach Museum on April 12, 2018. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The Beach Museum of Art welcomed artist Fidencio Fifield-Perez to discuss his commitment to activism and art to commemorate the last day of his exhibit’s display Thursday.

During his lecture, titled “Legalities of Being,” Fifield-Perez said he struggled to retain his humanity in the eyes of those who only saw him as a DACA recipient.

“I ceased to be my own person and became a statistic,” Fifield-Perez said. “My narrative didn’t matter to [the government.]”

Through his work, Fifield-Perez said he wanted to share his experience as an undocumented citizen with others.

Melanie Johnson, junior in criminology, said she pondered the difficulties of living in the U.S. undocumented.

“I like to imagine what it would be like for them and their families,” Johnson said. “It must have been so hard, especially for the people who left. I think what he is doing is shedding a light on that.”

Fifield-Perez said he was hesitant to get documented because there were documented people in his community who were immediately deported for a traffic stop because they didn’t have their documentation readily at hand.

He promotes change through his art, which depicts his family using non-traditional materials, as he shows his work around the world.

He said he learned many things over the course of teaching about art.

“One thing is that you have to know who your audience is,” Fifield-Perez said. “Second is if you are putting in the work and the results are not showing up, you have to put in the work and figure out why.”

The lecture opened up discussion on DACA.

“I thought it was very interesting to know more about the personal side of news and the personal story of those affected by it,” Brooklyn Jesseph, freshman in social work, said.

Johnson said she was inspired.

“I’m passionate about immigration, DACA and all the people that work really hard to just live a normal life,” Johnson said.“It inspires me to reach out to those kinds of people and put myself in their shoes.”