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Samella Lewis, American, (1924–2022)
Migrants, 1968
Ink on paper
22 3/8 x 29 in. (57 x 74 cm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Linocut
Credit Line: Purchase, Scripps Collectors' Circle
Accession Number: 2019.24.1

In Migrants, Samella Lewis features seven Mexican migrants, depicted in black-and-white and seated on the ground in what appears to be a forest. Lewis’ linocut illustrates the migrants in detail, with the clothing and facial features of each individual emphasized by Lewis’ intricate cuts. Collectively, the expression on their faces is one of discouragement, but each is seemingly isolated in that pain despite the fact that they are united in their migration. One of the female migrants looks straight at the viewer, crossing her arms and glaring.

Lewis created this piece in 1968, shortly after the Bracero Program concluded in the United States. Under this guest-worker program, which lasted from 1942 to 1964, four million Mexican farm workers immigrated to the United States. In an interview with Eric Minh Swenson in 2016, Lewis spoke about the piece. “They were bean pickers in the back of a bus. I really saw these people. And this woman was so majestic, she was ruling the whole thing, and these were personalities that I saw in the back of this bus.”

Amelie Lee SC ’23, Wilson Arts Administration Intern 2020

Lower left: AP and title in pencil

Lower right: artist's signature and year

ink on paper

The purchase for the Scripps collection of an important work by Scripps Professor Emerita Samella Lewis: Migrants. This acquisition and 2019.24.2 were made possible by gifts made to the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection.

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