Los Olvidados Liberados was inspired by 1100 children with cerebral palsy who were committed for care to Sonoma State Hospital in the 1950s. Without parental consent and against their will, they were subjected to painful medical experiments, during which many of them died.
We honored these forgotten children for Dia de los Muertos by acknowledging their suffering and symbolically setting them free.
Dozens of people came together to build winged hearts using the Mexican paper art of cartoneria. At the heart of the cartoneria tradition is gathering, community and storytelling.
Over 3000 people attended the exhibit, including many tours of school children, seniors and developmentally disabled groups. Los Olvidados sparks conversations about literal and metaphoric cages. What is loneliness? Where is social justice? In what ways are we caged literally and metaphorically? How can we get free? How can we work together to free each other?
The piece was inspired by travesties in the mental health system in California. The theme of imprisonment and liberation is universal. As we designed Los Olvidados, news of the migrant children being separated from their families at the US border as well as sex abuse scandals in the Catholic church hit the world. The artwork is about social injustice and the cage of trauma and the work sounds a collective call to face it and address it.
This artwork is available to tour to communities, aligning with local non-profits to co-create the hearts with various groups, addressing the social injustices relevant to them. The materials out of which the hearts are made may vary based upon the topic being highlighted.