This Photographer Offers a Window Into the Lives of Central American Youth Who Have Fought for a Home in the US

Show of the Day: “Ruthie Abel: Let It Be the Dream It Used to Be” at Anastasia Photo, New York.

Ruthie Abel, Sol. I came by bus, car and boat. I was in a truck and there was not much air and I could not breathe. Some people gave me a shirt and helped. I almost passed out… The best part of living here in learning English, and also being with my mom and brother. Sol arrived at age 14. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo
Ruthie Abel, Sol. I came by bus, car and boat. I was in a truck and there was not much air and I could not breathe. Some people gave me a shirt and helped. I almost passed out… The best part of living here in learning English, and also being with my mom and brother. Sol arrived at age 14. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

RUTHIE ABEL

“Let It Be the Dream It Used to Be”
Anastasia Photo, New York

What the Gallery Says: “Over 30,000 children currently face complex deportation proceedings without legal counsel. Most come from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, countries with the highest murder rates in the world. These children face deadly violence if deported, and thus have strong legal cases for immigration relief. However, these children are alone and unrepresented. In immigration court, the Department of Homeland Security is represented by highly trained attorneys who will argue for their removal. Without counsel, their chance of avoiding deportation is less than 10 percent. With legal counsel, their chance is 86 percent.

“‘Let It Be the Dream’ documents children who, through an extraordinary network of pro bono legal service providers, have won the right to stay in America.”

Why It’s Worth a Look: Taking her exhibition’s name from a 1935 poem by Langston Hughes, Abel gives a human face to an increasingly divisive political issue with her candid yet inviting photographs, which range from quiet and introspective to unexpectedly playful, the children’s openness belying their formerly precarious situations.

In the galleries, her portraits are paired with work by her subjects, printed on Plexiglas. “They are hand-backed with abstracts of legal documents that are relevant to the children’s defense in immigration court,” wrote the artist in an email to artnet News.

What It Looks Like:

Ruthie Abel, <em>Emily. My life: nervous, scary, safety, beautiful, excited... I want to be a doctor so that if people are sick I can give medicine, and a teacher so that I can teach kids that they can be somebody in the future. Emily arrived at age 8</em>. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Emily. My life: nervous, scary, safety, beautiful, excited… I want to be a doctor so that if people are sick I can give medicine, and a teacher so that I can teach kids that they can be somebody in the future. Emily arrived at age 8. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Friends. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Friends. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Little and Junior. I like to ride my bike and to build things. Our red bracelets are for good luck and protection. Little, aka Megamente. Little and Junior arrived at ages 12 and 15. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Little and Junior. I like to ride my bike and to build things. Our red bracelets are for good luck and protection. Little, aka Megamente. Little and Junior arrived at ages 12 and 15. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Favorite shoes for traveling. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Favorite shoes for traveling. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Sofia. Schools here are very safe, we even have fire drills! I want to be an architect because I like design and math is my favorite subject. Sofia arrived at age 11. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Sofia. Schools here are very safe, we even have fire drills! I want to be an
architect because I like design and math is my favorite subject. Sofia arrived at age 11
. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Happiness and Goals. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, Happiness and Goals. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, C.A. Tenía miedo. Ahora, estoy contento. Todo esta bien. I am in fifth grade. C.A. arrived age at 12. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, C.A. Tenía miedo. Ahora, estoy contento. Todo esta bien. I am in fifth grade. C.A.
arrived age at 12
. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, I love you/Be happy. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel, I love you/Be happy. © Ruthie Abel. Courtesy of Anastasia Photo

Ruthie Abel: Let It Be the Dream It Used to Be” is on view through February 11, 2018. 

Anastasia Photo is located at 143 Ludlow Street, New York.

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