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El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)

Tom Kiefer's avatar Tom Kiefer

El Sueño Americano (The American Dream). Lurking beneath the bright and shiny dream of a better life, El Sueño Americano is a deeply disturbing reflection of our treatment of fellow human beings. As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol janitor, part of the job was removal of trash bags at just one of our 136 facilities, where personal belongings are seized from migrants at or near the border. One day I looked into the bags. I glimpsed personal items, carefully chosen to support their owner’s desperate and dangerous journey. Items confiscated and trashed as ‘non-essential’; rosaries, bibles, wallets, clothes, coins, phones, food, soap, blankets, and family photos. Spending time with the confiscated items, organizing them, photographing them -- profoundly moved me. How precious were these to their owners? Disposing of them, I realized, was an act of dehumanization. El Sueño Americano is a visceral snapshot of what is happening, in direct defiance of those who would sweep it out of sight.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 2 inches
  • Medium: Photography
  • Width: 150' - 200'
  • Year created: 2012
  • Height: 6'