Aqui y Alla

Exploring the impact of immigration on youth.

Aqui y Alla, Created by lead artist Michelle Angela Ortiz in collaboration with David Flores, Oscar Gallegos, Juan Carlos Reyes and Antonio Leal. Photo by Steve Weinik.

I want to provide the youth—here and there—the opportunity to create awareness of the social conditions that exist in their communities. I want them to discover that they are not alone and that others also suffer from the impact of immigration and violence due to the lack of resources and racial and ethnic intolerance. The goal of the Aqui y Alla project is to empower youth through this exchange and creative process so they can find a common bond and have their voices resonate in the artwork we create together.

- Michelle Angela Ortiz

About the Project 

In 2012, Mural Arts partnered on Aqui y Alla, a transnational public art project created and directed by artist Michelle Angela Ortiz. The project explores the impact of immigration in the lives of Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia in connection with youth in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Aqui y Alla, which translates to “here and there,” refers to the youth in both Philadelphia and Mexico, whose lives are impacted by immigration through their family dynamic, sense of identity, shifting of cultures, socioeconomic status, and violence against their communities. This project works simultaneously on both sides of the border to join the two cultural worlds through the vision of young people and their art.

In addition to the final mural in South Philadelphia, Mural Arts hosted a curated exhibit of photos, artwork, and video surrounding the project.

Aqui y Alla mural dedication. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The U.S. Consulate is dedicated to supporting community leaders in Mexico. This project will offer the youth in the state of Chihuahua an opportunity to create images that represent their experiences of living near the U.S.-Mexico border.

- Olga Bashbush, Public Affairs Officer, Consulate General of the United States of America

Four artists and community leaders from the Colectivo Rezizte (Juarez) and Colectivo Madroño (Chihuahua City) worked with indigenous youth in Mexico, who created transportable murals on fiber cloth panels that were brought to Philadelphia. With the support of the United States Consulate in Juarez, the four artists (David Flores, Juan Carlos Reyes, Oscar Gallegos, and Antonio Leal) traveled to Philadelphia to work in collaboration with lead local artist Ortiz in conducting a series of writing, street art, and mural technique workshops with Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia.

The Aqui y Alla artist team. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Guided by the artists, the mural panels from Mexico were permanently installed and combined with the images created by Mexican immigrant youth in South Philadelphia. The end result is a permanent mural located on 1515 South 6th Street.

As a project partner, Mural Arts worked with Ortiz and the other artists to provide scaffolding and paint, prep the wall, and employ a teaching artist to work with Art Education students. Philadelphia Academies Inc. joined the effort as a collaborator.


United States Consulate in Juarez
National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC)
Leeway Foundation
Hispanics in Philanthropy
Individual donors