Face 2 Face: The Artist and The Dreamer

Words by Abigail Vela

Imagine a world where hope was presented to you one moment and taken away the next. Now imagine this happening over and over. This continues to be the reality for many. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was introduced in 2001. Its goal was to protect immigrants who arrived in the country as children, also known as Dreamers, from deportation and provide a path to citizenship. To this day, the Dream Act has yet to earn a majority vote in the House or Senate, leaving many Dreamers uncertain about their future

 

In 2012, during the Obama administration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, aka DACA, was implemented, which allowed Dreamers to live, pursue an education, drive, and find employment without being prosecuted. DACA faced obstacles, such as the Trump administration’s failed attempt to terminate the program in 2020.
 

However, despite efforts to help Dreamers live a life of peace in this country, DACA was recently ruled illegal on October 5th, 2022, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. This means DACA will be prohibited to first-time applicants while current recipients are allowed to renew their, ultimately uncertain, status. President Biden released a statement shortly after the verdict, “Today’s decision is the result of continued efforts by Republican state officials to strip DACA recipients of the protections and work authorization that many have now held for over a decade.”

We collaborated with RGV artist and Dreamer Sandro Galicia Toledo, aka Face 2 Face, to create a sticker and a print for us. Shortly after, we had a short yet insightful interview about his inspiration to incorporate his experience within his artwork.

Drawn multi-colored butterfly with the words Keep Dreams Alive around the Butterflies Wings.
Keep Dreams Alive Sticker by Face to Face Art

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

 

Honestly, my whole life is just coffee, cats, and art. I’m from Los Fresnos, originally from Port Isabel, so I grew up near the Island [by Laguna Heights] and work in Harlingen. 

 

Coffee, cats, and art, I like that!

 

Yeah, coffee, cats, and art! 

 

Why did you represent the Dreamers within your (sticker) design as a butterfly?

 

I used the butterfly – I researched why they used it. So migration is natural; my mom brought me here when I was three. I’ve been a Dreamer since 2012. That’s why I drew the butterfly, too, because I saw everybody using a monarch butterfly. I was like, what if I made this butterfly kind of in a cartoon kind of kid’s way? Because a lot of [Dreamers] came here when they were young, kids. [I included the words] ‘Keep Dreams Alive.’ I chose ‘Keep Dreams Alive’ because it’s true. You gotta keep dreams alive and creativity for other kids and people my age who are growing up and already have lives situated here. So taking them away, like the whole Dream Act, you’d be taking away dreams and aspirations. There are two flowers in there too, and a smiley face as well.  There’s some rough texture to it too, but it’s kind of seen as drawn with a crayon. That’s kind of what I wanted to do, and also the shading.

Can you tell me about your experience being a Dreamer? 

It’s interesting cuz they don’t want us here, but you can’t go back to Mexico. I mean, you can go back, but you can’t cross back. That’s the whole deal. It’s cool cuz it gave me an opportunity to get a job and a Social Security Number and all that, so I’m grateful for that.

It’s like being in limbo. You don’t know if you’re going to get kicked out or what’s going to happen next. I also have a lot of friends who are Dreamers as well. Seeing them being affected [while] having jobs and lives, like them trying to get their credit up as well – seeing that, it’s a big stress. It’s really stressful, honestly, especially when you’re getting near to the renewal. And then the next year, it might not be there, so it’s like you’re saving up to renew. So there’s that as well…

 

 

How did your art style translate within this issue and Valley culture (specifically with the dog in the luchador mask)? 

 

[I grew up] seeing Lucha Libre, and now it’s coming [back around], so I like seeing more of the luchador kind of style. [My partner and I] were at Labyrinth, and we heard a bunch of commotion outside, we saw a ring with just a bunch of luchadores there, and were like, “Woah! That’s so sick!” But yeah, the dog is a chihuahua. I want a chihuahua, I always see a chihuahua running down the street, and those [dogs] last.so I feel like chihuahuas…luchador, like that would last forever! Y’all gave me the whole ‘Ponte Trucha, Sigue La Lucha,’ and that goes with the whole Dream Act, too. 

Face to Face Art

Sandro proceeded to show us where the RGV was located within his artwork. 

 

 

Oh yeah! And then, on the design, on the eye part, it’s actually the Rio Grande Valley. If you pay attention to it, it’s actually the whole Rio Grande Valley. And then on the side it says the 956. I wanted to incorporate little things from the Valley – like the shape. I also wanted to go with bright colors, things you would see at the meat markets, like red and yellow. It’s stuff that catches your eye.

A mean looking Chihuahua wearing a yellow lucador mask on a blue background
Luchador Print by Face to Face Art

We’d like to give an immense THANK YOU to Face 2 Face for creating a print and sticker set to aid in our fundraising efforts. This fundraiser will help us continue our mission to uplift immigrants, LGBTQIA+ folks, local artists, and community journalists.

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