It all began with an idea, a doodle on a piece of paper. While listening to the news about the immigration ban, and the proposed building of a wall between the United States and Mexico, I started drawing a brick and decorating it. My thoughts were that I could create a stencil and make about 100 bricks, then sell them to raise money and awareness for organizations that work with immigrants and refugees.
While in Austin for an art event, I mentioned the idea to an artist friend, Rebecca Bennett, and she told me that other artists would be interested in doing something similar. I asked her if she would like to create a brick and she said yes. That was on a Saturday afternoon. By the following Wednesday, about 50 artists from across the USA had said yes to my idea. The project took on a life of its own.
I started researching the immigration/refugee issue and learned that there are 23 million refugees in the world. Of that number, only 1% are actually relocated to a new country, and the remainder live in camps for decades, if not the rest of their lives.
I realized that the issue was more complicated than I thought, and that there were many worthy non-profit organizations out there in need of help, covering a broad spectrum of services geared towards immigrants and refugees. It was really hard to choose one organization over another, but I decided to work with lesser known organizations that are active in the state of Texas, as well as one organization that works with refugees abroad. Our partners for this project are American Gateways, Casa Marianella, Preemptive Love Coalition and Refugee Services of Texas.
As an immigrant from Brazil, over the decades, I have heard many heartbreaking stories from people all over the world. It’s hard not to feel empathy toward those who might be less fortunate than I. Some might say that I am paying it forward for the opportunities that I have had in this country.
Why one hundred and fifty bricks? The number is arbitrary, but it takes a lot of bricks to build a wall.
This project would not be possible without the help of the hundreds of artists, individuals, writers, and photographers who have agreed to be a part of this idea. For that, I will be forever grateful. Together, I hope we can make a difference, one brick at a time.