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Thought-provoking installation on 'zero tolerance' immigration policy coming to U-M Ann Arbor

Exhibit will be on display Sept. 19-Oct. 31

"Illegal Entry" by Ruth Leonela Buentello (acrylic on canvas) will be featured in "Yo Tengo Nombre" [I Have a Name], an exhibition presented by the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Sept. 19–Oct. 31.
"Illegal Entry" by Ruth Leonela Buentello (acrylic on canvas) will be featured in "Yo Tengo Nombre" [I Have a Name], an exhibition presented by the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Sept. 19–Oct. 31.

ANN ARBOR – A new installation coming to the University of Michigan's Institute for the Humanities depicts the detainment and separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The paintings -- titled "Yo Tengo Nombre [I Have a Name]" -- will be on view from Sept. 19 through Oct. 31. The works are part of the "Zero Tolerance" series by artist Ruth Leonela Buentello, inspired by the aftermath of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that garnered extensive media attention.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, San Antonio-based Buentello is an interdisciplinary artist who explores themes like gender, gender identity, current issues of immigration, familial relationships and patriarchy through her work.

"Juanita Arrested for Selling Flowers Youtube Still" by Ruth Leonela Buentello (acrylic on canvas) will be featured in "Yo Tengo Nombre" [I Have a Name], an exhibition presented by the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Sept. 19–Oct. 31.
"Juanita Arrested for Selling Flowers Youtube Still" by Ruth Leonela Buentello (acrylic on canvas) will be featured in "Yo Tengo Nombre" [I Have a Name], an exhibition presented by the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Sept. 19–Oct. 31.

"Family and immigration enforcement are personal to many of us with migrant roots," Buentello said in a statement.

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For the project, Buentello asked her family members to act out moments as if they were in place of the migrants. 

"Buentello's work combines intimacy with urgency, conveying deeply personal reflections about family, community, personhood and place," Amanda Krugliak, curator and assistant director of arts programming at the U-M Institute for the Humanities, said in a statement. 
 
"The works honor the handmade and the integrity of labor, expressed through the physicality and directness of painting, assemblage and embroidery. This incorporation of traditional themes and methodology in her practice also upends those themes. Almost tactical, each stroke and stitch is a covert revolution."

"Desaparecidos" by Ruth Leonela Buentello (acrylic on canvas) will be featured in "Yo Tengo Nombre" [I Have a Name], an exhibition presented by the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Sept. 19–Oct. 31.
"Desaparecidos" by Ruth Leonela Buentello (acrylic on canvas) will be featured in "Yo Tengo Nombre" [I Have a Name], an exhibition presented by the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Sept. 19–Oct. 31.


 
Buentello is the 2019 Efroymson Emerging Artist in Residence at U-M's Institute for Humanities. On Sept. 19, a 5:30 p.m. opening reception and interview with Buentello will take place.

The Institute for the Humanities Gallery is located at 202 S. Thayer St. 

The free gallery is open to the public on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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