For almost two years, Rev. Dr. Helen Boursier and other volunteer chaplains facilitated an art ministry for moms and children held in a for-profit immigrant family detention center in Texas. The detainees were mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala who had made their way across Mexico to the U.S. Border. As a professional photographer, and with their permission, “Pastora Elena” recorded much of the work of the 5,000 mothers and children who participated. In December of 2016, ICE abruptly cancelled the security clearances of the volunteer chaplains and discontinued the art ministry.
Rev. Boursier’s images of the works tell the families’ powerful stories in a way that words alone cannot. She first began sharing them on her blog, Refugee Art, where she posted pictures and translated the women’s written reflections into English. In May, the Interfaith Welcome Coalition commissioned her to create a touring exhibit of Giclée prints, texts, and photographs that could be passed from church to synagogue to mosque to parish so that many people of faith could experience them. This stunning collection helps us understand the plight of these Central American families more deeply: the violence they endured at home, the horrors of their passage, and the unrelenting hope which sustained them on their journeys.
Ours will be the first church to view these stunning and evocative works, beginning with a reception at the Fuund Lunch on Sunday, August 13. They will remain on exhibit through August 27 for viewing on Sundays, during events in the Channing-Murray Building, or by appointment.