Artist in Residency: 2024

Art is a tool of resistance and one of the deepest forms of expression.

About DWN's Artist in Residency Program

Detention Watch Network (DWN) initiated its inaugural Artist in Residency program in 2022 in recognition of the role that art plays in the movement to abolish immigration detention. DWN believes that artist collaboration is essential to create depth and richness in our storytelling. DWN's Artist in Residency program supports artists who are directly impacted by immigration detention to amplify and celebrate their work.

2024 Artist in Residency: Angelica Frausto

Angelica Frausto

About Angelica

Detention Watch Network's (DWN) 2024 Artist in Residency is Angelica Frausto. Angelica Frausto, also known as Nerdy Brown Kid, is a queer Xicana artist, born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago, currently residing in South Bend, Indiana. With a national audience of nearly 20,000 followers, their online presence amplifies marginalized voices, particularly within the Latinx community.

Leveraging their art as a tool for social change has led to an extensive history of collaborations with socially engaged organizations, including Detention Watch Network, Midwest Immigration Bond Fund, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Notably, Angelica created portraits to be displayed in front of the White House as part of Detention Watch Network’s Free Them All campaign.

Why is immigration detention abolition important to you?

Immigration detention abolition is crucial to me for deeply personal reasons. Growing up in a mixed-status household exposed me to the profound impact of immigration policies firsthand. In my community, the pervasive sense of fear and uncertainty surrounding immigration was palpable—it was woven into the fabric of our daily lives. Witnessing the struggles of my loved ones, neighbors, and friends underscored the inherent injustice of a system that perpetuates such fear and division.

I believe that our stories and experiences are inherently connected. When someone in our community is detained or deported, it sends shockwaves of fear and instability that affect us all. Instead of building walls or detention centers, we can work together to build bridges between communities, bridges to bright, abundant futures.

What does your artwork represent?

My artwork represents the stories and visions shared by three women directly impacted by immigration detention. It reflects their strength and dreams of a world without oppression. Ultimately, the artwork represents a call to reimagine existing systems of oppression, emphasizing the power of collective action and building bridges of care and support across diverse communities.

What or who inspires you?

As a queer Xicana artist, my creative journey is rooted in the cultural and personal landscapes that have shaped me. My artistic vision revolves around the idea that art can be a catalyst for change, a voice for the silenced, and a mirror for those whose lived experiences are not reflected in traditional galleries. I am deeply inspired by everyday activists whose very existence is resistance.

Aesthetically, my work draws from the rich traditions of Xicanx muralism and contemporary illustrative styles. This fusion allows me to convey complex narratives while maintaining a visual vibrancy that is accessible to a wide audience.

My creative process is deeply intuitive, often sparked by personal experiences, poetry, or the power and resilience of the QTBIPOC community. My background in social science leads me to approach my work as a researcher, engaging with communities and collaborating with organizations to authentically represent the stories I seek to tell.

About the Project

Angelica’s residency aims to promote divestment from immigration detention and reinvestment in community resources by envisioning a future of abundance. Through listening sessions with three impacted women from Detention Watch Network’s Freedom Fighters cohort, Angelica uncovered a recurring theme: the interconnectedness of our communities and the bridges that bind us. Inspired by their visions of a future without immigration detention, Angelica created an image that reflected their resilience and dreams.

See the 2022 Artist in Residency, Miguel Lopez