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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE in VT » VERMONT (all topics) » Invisible Odysseys
Invisible Odysseys

The Artistic Stories of Mexican-Vermonters, Middlebury, VT

By Allison Flint | March 01, 2012

The One with Nature
The One with the Dollar
The One with the Picnic
The One with Tractors
Tracing the Journeys by B. Amore

Artistic expression of both individuals and communities can reveal much that is hidden in plain sight, and the latest exhibition at the Vermont Folklife Center accomplishes this admirably.

In search of a better life for themselves and their families, many Mexicans have left their native homeland and traveled many thousands of miles north to Vermont in search of work in the dairy industry.

The One with the Restaurant

Without legal documentation these journeys have been fraught and harrowing.   The topic of illegal immigrants is a political hot potato, but few who visit the Vermont Folklife Center will not be moved by the fourteen individual stories on display in their latest exhibit, Invisible Odysseys, which runs until April 28, 2012.

While Vermonters have been afforded an opportunity to express their views on the influx of laborers into the state, the farmworkers have until now remained silent and unheard through fear of deportation.

In a project four years in the making, Vermont artist and writer B. Amore, with a team of volunteers, provided paints, boxes and other materials to laborers, but it was up to each individual how they chose to tell their story.

Most of the artists remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

But at the opening of the exhibit (on February 3, 2012) one of the artists was present and spoke passionately with those in attendance about his art.   He is so inspired by this project that he hopes to participate in upcoming events at the Folklife center.

Walking into the diorama exhibit, the colors burst from the many boxes on pedestals around the gallery.   A common theme persists through the art – vibrant hues represent vibrant hopes, yet the pathos of the experience is evident in the figures, the poetry and the images.   Their collective Mexican pride is symbolized by the many flags and even whole boxes painted like the flag.

One artist, named only Z., includes a handwritten poem in her diorama about her journey from Mexico to Vermont.   An English translation, by collaborator Susannah McCandless, accompanies her work.

What sadness!
Traversing the desert, risking my life, I managed to cross;
but now I have lost my name.
Now they call me the wetback, undocumented, the immigrant.
I’m not asking for handouts – I want to be paid in exchange for my work.
I am a young, old woman.
I only want to work.
I want you to understand me
I have a soul, heart and body.
I live far from my family.
I don’t want to feel alone, isolated,
I don’t want to keep on hiding.
I am not a criminal.
I am only a human being with the desire to work and achieve something better.

The One with Tinsel

Invisible Odysseys provides unique insight into the lives of some of our hardest working Vermonters.


The Vermont Folklife Center

88 Main Street
Middlebury, VT 05753 

(802) 388-4964


Opening Hours:

Sun & Mon: Closed

Tue – Sat: 10AM–5PM

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