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Art + Constitution Day

I believe that art has a unique role in our world to create meaningful dialogue. By engaging in seeing and learning about art we are reminded that as humans we share more commonalities than we do differences. I felt it appropriate, therefore, on the week in which Americans will celebrate their citizenship and the adoption of the United States' most important document, to share a body of work by my colleague, friend and fellow Graduate Student at Florida Atlantic University, Ingrid Barreneche.

This Thursday, September 17th, the United States will celebrate Constitution Day. Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the most important document in the United States, the Constitution (!!!) by thirty-nine men on September 17th, 1787. It is also alternatively recognized as Citizenship Day (its former name, prior to 2004, when a bill was passed to rename the day and mandate educational programming about the Constitution) which aims to “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”

American Backyard is a body of work created by Ingrid Barreneche which was a response to her naturalization process and as a result, her love affair with American history, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Colombian by birth, Ingrid was compelled as an immigrant to remind others how important these documents were and not to take them for granted.

FAU Graduate Student, Ingrid Barreneche, at the first public installation and performance of "We the people" at Miami-Dade College in 2010. Ingrid began this project in 2010 and it expanded to other important venues until 2012.

The artist coated white cotton t-shirts with gesso, a material traditionally used to prime canvases for oil paint, and screen-printed the lettering using black and red ink. Hanging her shirts on the line is a referrence to the backyard in her poem, American Backyard.

In the installation you will notice that the t-shirt which has FREE SPEACH adorned on it should read FREE SPEECH. The artist intentionally mispelled FREE SPEACH on the t-shirt in the installation as a means to engage the public with her artwork. Surprisingly, only three people noticed the error and as a result, practiced their right to free speech that day. The interaction with the public hightlights the artist's motivation for making the work.

American Backyard

Everyone in my American Backyard

We have rights

We have a flag.

We have rights.

We, The People

I have a t-shirt for you...and for you, and you.

Hanging on my clothesline rope.

Come on, try it on!

Exercise your rights.

You are part and welcomed to my, you...(our)

American Backyard.

I will hug you with my "bear arms"!

During the public performance of "We the people" the artist read this poem that she wrote, entitled American Backyard

After the initial success of the public installation Ingrid was approached by Bernice Steinbaum, former Gallery Director of Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, to create a wearable piece of art for the non-profit, Americans for Immigrant Justice. Born out of that request, Ingrid created 50 limited edition necklaces from 925 silver that represented the same concepts in American Backyard. 100% of profits went to immigrants in need.

The artist recreated the t-shirt and clothesline from her installation and transformed them into new materials.

detail of "We the People" necklace on 925 silver.

This is the Artist Proof (AP), which is signed by the artist.

Ingrid Barreneche is a second-year graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts Program at Florida Atlantic University where she sculpts things. Her current interest is in work that describes domestic spaces.

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