Glorya Kaufman Hall
120 Westwood Plaza, Suite 150
Box 951608
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1608 USA

Immigration and the Visual Arts

World Arts and Cultures 120/220 Spring 2006

Janna Shadduck-Hernández

Wednesdays 1:00 PM - 3:50 PM

Glorya Kaufman Hall Rm. 101

Course Overview:  The goal for this class is for participants to develop a theoretical and practical understanding of the subject of U.S. immigration as it is expressed and represented through the visual arts. This course explores a spectrum of visual and graphic art forms that have been produced and reproduced as reflections of migration within and to this country. The first part of the course focuses on a historical perspective of diverse migration experiences through visual documentation and representation. This will include archival photographs from, for example, the Farm Security Administration to newspaper caricatures to community and government documents to family photo albums. We will review and critique the work of turn-of-the-century documentary photographers like Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine to mid-century photographers like Dorothea Lange, the Mayo Brothers and Gordon Parks to contemporary photographers like Don Barleti, Ulli Steltzer and David Bacon.

In this course we will also look at the visual art collections of three immigration museums as a way to analyze how immigration has been depicted in this type of venues.  These will include Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, Lower Eastside Tenament Musesum, and the present development of the Immigration Museum of New Americans in San Diego. Students will read relevant texts related to theoretical and historical debates on the subject of visual representation and increase their knowledge about the immigration experience in relation to these media.

The second part of the course will be dedicated to exploring visual art created by immigrant and refugee artists and community members as a reflection and representation of their migration experiences.  We will explore how newcomer communities and individuals have utilized photography (Alexander Alland, Marian Palfi, Robert Frank, Ricardo Ocreto Alvarado, Abby Chen) and visual art forms like the retablo paintings of Latin American migrants, as cultural resources to reinforce ideas of community, challenge authority, and invoke and embody change. We will also explore the concept of participatory photography promoted by, for example, Caroline Wang and Jim Hubbard, and grassroots approaches to photography and social action where community members use art to impact policy decisions affecting their lives. This course will investigate how visual artists have responded to socio-historical conditions such as racism, segregation and economic hardship to reveal critical notions of individual and collective identity and agency. Students will increase their knowledge through guest lecturer dialogue and experiential learning during community art site visits within Los Angeles.

The readings, participatory exercises, field trips, journals and guest speakers/facilitators will help class participants understand the concepts of immigration in relation to the visual arts.


1.  Class participation. This class will be conducted as a participatory seminar.   Students will be expected to read the assigned texts carefully and come to class prepared to discuss them in detail.   

Class participants will engage in weekly discussion board dialogues on the WAC home page. Each week students are required to post at least 1 question and 2 comments regarding the readings and themes from the class, ideas for directions for discussion or a critical analysis of the class topics.  This dialogue will help determine the focus and direction of the class during the quarter.

Class participation will account for 10 % of one's seminar grade.

2.  Critical Review Papers.  Students will be required to prepare and circulate (to the instructor as well as the other students) 2- 3-5 page critical review papers based on the readings and materials handed out in class for that week (total of 2 papers for the quarter). These papers will be graded and they will be used to stimulate and guide discussion that week. The papers will account for 30% of your seminar grade. 

3. Class Presentations

·        Students will present their critical review papers twice during the quarter to facilitate classroom discussion for that day.

·        Students will be required to build a portfolio of images, art, photography, newspaper clippings, film references or clips related to immigration issues, present it to the class and hand it in by the end of the quarter.

·        Presentation of Field Visit to the class

·        Presentation of your Research Paper

Presentations will account for 30% of your grade.

4. Final Research Paper: A final research paper on an approved subject integrating course materials and outside resources and research. The final paper should be 12- 15 pages double-spaced typed pages with no shorter than 1” borders. Guidelines for papers will be handed out in class. Your final paper will be 30% of your grade.

5.  Field Visit.  During the semester students will form groups to go on one group field trip to an arts venue that focuses on immigration. Some suggestions include:

·        Self-Help Graphics on Gage Ave and Cesar Chavez in East L.A.

·        Venice Arts on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice

·        Japanese-American National Museum in Little Tokyo

·        The Museum of African American Art

6. Contact Information: 

Phone:  310-825-3113


Office hours:  A-81 Haines Hall- Wednesdays 10:00-11:00 or by appointment



Week 1 Wednesday April 5- Introduction to the Class, Each Other and Discussion of the Syllabus

No reading will be assigned for the first class.

Documenting America

Week 2- Wednesday April 12- Overview of Immigration and the Visual Arts

Becker, Howard, S. (1998). "Visual Sociology, Documentary, Photography and Photojournalism: It's (Almost) All a Matter of Context." In Prosser, John. Image-based Research: A Sourcebook for Qualitative Researchers. London: Falmer Press.

Foner, Nancy. 2000. From Ellis Island to JFK: New York's Two Great Waves of Immigration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Introduction and Chapter 1 "Who They Are and Why They Have Come."

Feagin, Joe. R. 1997. “Old Poison in New Bottles: Deep Roots Modern Nativism”.In Juan F. Perea (ed.) Immigrants OUT! The New Nativism and the Anti-Immigrant Impulse in the United States. New York: New York University Press.

Jirousek, Lori. 2002. "Spectacle Ethnography and Immigrant Resistance: Sui Sin Far and Anzia Yezierska." MELUS , Vol. 27, No. 1, (Spring):. 25-52

Week 3-Wednesday April 19- The History of Immigration to the United States: Visual Representation

Sanchez, G. J. (2000). “Race and Immigration History." In N. Foner, R. Rumbaut & S. Gold (eds.) Immigration Research for a New Century: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Foner, Nancy, George M. Fredrickson (eds.). 2004. Not Just Black and White: Historical, Contemporary Perspectives on Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity in the United States. New York: Russuell Sage Foundation. Introduction, Foner, Nancy and George Fredrickson, “Immigration, Race and Ethnicity in the United States ” and Chapter 1, Cornell, Stephan and Douglas Hartman, “Conceptual Confusions and Divides: Race, Ethnicity and the Study of Immigration”.

Riis, Jacob. 1890. How the Other Half Lives. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons. Chapters I, V, IX, and XII.

George Dimock. 1993. "Children of the Mills: Re-Reading Lewis Hine's Child-Labour Photographs". Oxford Art Journal , Vol. 16, No. 2: 37-54.

Let Children Be Children- Photography by Lewis W. Hine

Ellis Island- Photography by Lewis W. Hine

Massey, Douglas et al. 1987. Return to Aztlan: The Social Process of International Migration from Western Mexico. Berkeley: University of California Press, pages 39-62.

Leonard Nadel Collection of Bracero Program

Immigrant Photographers in the United States by David Bacon

Dorothea Lange and the Internment of Japanese-Americans

Reflection Paper # 1, Group 1 & 3 Due

Week 4- Wednesday April 26-The Use of the Visual to Study Immigration

Chavez, Leo. (2001). Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation. Berkeley: University of California Press. Chapters 2-4.

Chavez, Leo (1994). "The Power of the Imagined Community: The Settlement of Undocumented Mexicans and Central Americans in the United States." American Anthropologist . New Series, Vol. 96, No. 1 (March): 52-73.

Trend, David. 1997. Cultural Democracy: Politics, Media and New Technology. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. Chapter 3, " Movies, Histories adn Politics of Utopia."

Vila, Pablo (2000). Crossing Borders, Reinforcing Borders: Social Categories, Metaphors, and Narrative Identities on the U.S. Mexico Border. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Reflection Paper # 1, Group 2 & 4

Week 5- Wednesday May 3-Museums and the Institutional Representation of Immigration

Guest Speaker- Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, Advisory Board Member of the Immigration Museum of New Americans in San Diego (to be confirmed)

Overview and discussion of the collections at Angel Island Station Museum,

Lower Eastside T enament Museum and Ellis Island Museum of Immigration

Zolberg, Vera.1984. "American Art Museums: Sancturay or Free for All?" . Social Forces, Vol. 63, No. 2: 377-392.

Morin, France, Apinan Poshyananda, Mari Carmen Ramírez, Caroline Turner; Igor Zabel; Valerie Cassel. 2000. "Beyond Boundaries: Rethinking Contemporary Art Exhibitions." Art Journal , Vol. 59, No. 1. (Spring,): 4-21.

Angel Island Poems

Asians in America Project

Made in the U.S-Angel Island...shhhh!

Field Trip Presentations in Class

Week 6- Wednesday May 10 – Visual Activism and Immigration: A Contemporary Perspective

Fernández, María. 1999. "Postcolonial Media Theory." Art Journal , Vol. 58, No. 3. (Autumn): 58-73.

Giroux, Henry. A.. and Roger. Simon. 1994. "Pedagogy and the Critical Practice of Photography." In Henry A. Giroux, Distubing Pleasures: Learning Popular Cultures. New York: Routledge Press.

Bacon, David. 2004. Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US/Mexico Borders. Berkeley: University of California Press. Chapter 1 " Grapes and Green Onions", p. 19- 41.

Exerpts from Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario and Photography by Don Barleti

Dirdamal, Tin. 2005. De Nadie/No One . Sundance Documentary Audience Award 2006.

Erickson, Mary. 2000. "Crossing Borders in Search of Self." Art Education , Vol. 53, No. 2, How History and Culture Come Together as Art. (March): 46-52.

Reflection Paper #2 Group 2 & 4

Week 7– Wednesday May 17-  Representing the Self I: Migrant Visual Narratives

Foner, Nancy, George M. Fredrickson (eds.). 2004. Not Just Black and White: Historical, Contemporary Perspectives on Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity in the United States. New York: Russuell Sage Foundation. Chapter 4, Trotter, Joe. W., "The Great Migration, African Americans and Immigrants in the Industrial City."

Roscoe Hartigan, Lynda. 2000. "Going Urban: American Folk Art and the Great Migration." American Art, Vol. 14, No. 2. (Summer): 26-51.

Parks, Gordon. 1942. Ella Watson Project

Durand, Jorge and Douglas Massey. (1995). Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Introduction, Chapters 1-3

Sorell, Victor Alejandro. (1998). “Telling Images Bracket the ‘Broken Promised Land': The Culture of Immigration and the Immigration of Culture Across Borders”. In David.R. Maciel and Maria Herera-Sobek (eds.), Culture Across Borders: Mexican Immigration and Popular Culture. Tuscon, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Cruz, Yolanda. 2004.Suenos Binacionales/Bi-national Dreams. Petate Films

Reflection Paper # 2 Groups 1 & 3

Week 8- Wednesday May 24- Representing the Self II: Immigrant and Refugee Visual Narratives

Screening and Guests Speakers: Leslie Ito (producer) and Robert Winn (director) of Grassroots Rising 

Discussion of the Photography Exhibit, Through My Father's Eyes: The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto-Alvarado.

Examples of immigrant youth photography like French Balalaika Workshop, Shooting the Breeze where immigrant youth photographers portray the satellite neighborhoods of Mulhouse, France.

Week 9- Wednesday May 31-Participatory Arts: Community Transformation through the Visual Arts

Wang, C. and Burris, M (1997). “Photovoice: Concept, Methodology and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment Health Education and Behavior. Vol. 24 (3): 369-387.

Wang, C. and Burris, M. (1994). “Empowerment through Photovoice: Portraits of Participation”. Health Education Quarterly. Vol. 21 (2): 171-186.

Ramos, F. (1999). The FotoDialogo Method: Using Pictures and Storytelling to Promote Dialogue and Self-Discovery among Latinas. Doctoral Dissertation, Center for International Education, University of Massachusetts.

Ziller, R. C. (1990). Photographing the Self: Methods for Personal Orientations. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Kim, Sojin. 1999. "Curiously Familiar: Art and Curio Stores in Los Angeles' Chinatown." Western Folklore, V ol. 58, No. 2, Built L.A.: Folklore and Place in Los Angeles. (Winter): 131-147

Research Paper Presentations in Class

Week 10 –Wednesday June 7- Immigrant Social Movements and the Visual Arts

An overview of how immigrant social movements and the visual arts have challenged conditions such as racism, segregation and economic hardship to reveal critical notions of individual and collective identity and agency.

Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride:

Lori Eklund; Jerry Medran. "Instructional Resources: Community and Contemporary Chicano Art: Four El Paso Artists". Art Education , Vol. 53, No. 4, The Value of Local History and Place within Art Education. (Jul., 2000), pp. 25-32.

Velez-Ibanez, Carlos, G. (1996) “Making Pictures: U.S. Mexican Place and Space in Mural Art”. In Velez-Ibanez, C.G. Border Visions: Mexican Cultures of the Southwest United States. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Final Research Papers due on June 14 by 5:00 PM in WAC 150 or by email