Familias Separadas

Familias Separadas - Harrisburg - Michelle Angela Ortiz

"Familias Separadas” is a public art project that places at the forefront the stories of immigrant families affected by detention and deportations in Pennsylvania.  

Ortiz currently creating a series of temporary large-scale public artworks based on the interviews she conducted with mothers and children formerly detained at the Berks Detention Center for close to 2 years. These artworks will be installed in different locations in Pennsylvania. The goals of her project is to amplify the powerful voices of detained families, to create a platform through art to discuss the inhumane treatment in family prisons, and to further support the fight to end family detention in Pennsylvania and in the U.S.


Phase 1 of Familias Separadas  was installed on October 2015. Ortiz unveiled several temporary large-scale site-specific public art works throughout Philadelphia, including an installation in front of the Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency in Philadelphia.


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Ortiz had unveiled Phase 2 of Familias Separadas in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Based on the interviews of four mothers formerly detained at the Berks family prison, she has installed eight large-scale public art installations. Each work of art highlights the messages and portraits of the mothers and their children. The installations include several 40-foot billboards, bus shelters, an 88-foot long painted image installed on the Capitol steps, and 35-foot mural in Allison Hill. The installations will be up from October 26th through November 18th, 2018.

about the film "Las Madres de Berks" >

about the Harrisburg installations >