Flowers for Immigration

2016 – 2018
You, if no one else Arlington Arts Center, Arlington VA, 2018
Beginning in  2016, just after Trump started campaigning for president, I have been inviting flower workers to participate in making a flower arrangement in response to, what would later be, his immigration policy. As they make the arrangement, I interview them asking why they selected certain flowers and their views on the president. Every day, these workers design flower arrangements for New Yorkers to use as a means of expressing themselves. And I wondered, how can these flower workers have the same opportunity of self-expression? Flowers for Immigration hopes to show the beauty in the resilience and creativity of these undocumented workers.

Curators: Karyn Miller, You, If no one else. Common Interest, Dept. of Non-Binaries for Sharjah Graphic Design Biennale

Photo by Elene Demenia

Sharjah Graphic Design Biennale, Dept. of Non-Binaries, Sharjah, 2018

Flowers Arrangements and Their Testimonials

Nancy, is a native of Hidalgo, México and has lived in the U.S. for 23 years. She was offended by Trump's words, not only as an immigrant, but as a women. She said “No creo que ese señor salió del vientre de una mujer” (I don’t think that man comes from a womxn's womb). Nancy picked a bright blue colored margarita for the center of the arrangement. She said “Una flor azúl porque es un hombre” (A blue flower because he is a man).

Rubén is a native of Guerrero, México and has lived in New York City for over 10 years. He decided to use flowers that were imported from México — white gladiolas and eucalyptus.

Viviana is a native of Puebla, México and has lived in the U.S. for 21 years. I asked Viviana to make an arrangement for Donald Trump and she exclaimed “Para que? Para su Tumba! Claro.” (For what? For his grave! Sure). She asked me how I arrived here. I said by plane, to which she replied, “Que lindo” (How beautiful). Viviana crossed the border by foot to meet some family here. Viviana picked margaritas, roses, baby's breath and lilies; “Las lilas las usan en los funerals” (They use lilies for funerals), she said.

Silvio is  a native of Guerrero, México; he  crossed the border 17 years ago. Silvio picked all margaritas because they are his favorite flowers.

R.I.P., The Maine Mall Food Court, Portland, ME  2019 photo by Joel Tsui

For the #womensmarch in 2017, one group of 10-12 womxn carried pieces of four bouquets from undocumented bodega flower workers in Manhattan. One of those arrangements was Silvio’s, a native of Guerrero, México who crossed the border 17 years ago. Silvio picked all margaritas because they were his favorite flowers.

I invited marchers to carry flowers in solidarity with immigrant rights. A group of over 15 womxn carried sections of arrangements I previously collected from undocumented flower workers. Two of them, Tanya and Eva, marched in Washington with flowers. The rest of us marched in NYC.

Thank you to all the marchers: Marissa Adele, Emilia Gonzalez, Arleene Correa, Lee-Ann Asha, Monica Nelson, Ian Hanesworth, Jen Vasquez, Jeanette Abbink, Tanya Quick, Eva Mayha,, Elene Damenia, Lucia Fainzilber, and Paula Lombardi.

Photo by Elene Demenia

© 2024 Lizania Cruz