When We First Arrived

Faculty member Mary Lum was one of 100 leading and emerging artists who made work for DYKWTCA (Do You Know Where The Children Are?).

Mary Lum Image
Page 74, 75, 76—17 year old girl, from El Salvador, June 19, 2019: “One of the guards came in yesterday afternoon and asked us how many stripes were on the flag of the United States. We tried to guess, but when we were wrong, he slammed the door.” Copyright Mary Lum. All images courtesy of DYKWTCA, Mary Ellen Carroll, and Lucas Michael. Photograph: Mary Lum


The project created art work based on the sworn testimony of interviews with detained children at the US Customs and Border Protection facility in Clint, TX. Conducted in June of last year, The Guardian reported that a group of volunteer lawyers, doctors, and mental health physicians traveled “to record the accounts of the unaccompanied minors, some as young as toddlers, in government custody to assure the US was not in violation of the Flores agreement.” What they found there was so inhumane that they filed a lawsuit against the federal government and released the transcripts of their interviews publicly. DYKWTCA founders shared the children’s testimony with 100 artists, including Lum. “The organizers transcribed the Flores interviews provided by Project Amplify and made them available as searchable PDFs; then artists were asked to read through the accounts and produce a work as a material record of the children’s experiences.” After appearing in traveling exhibitions, the work will be sold with proceeds and matching donations from partner organizations going to Safe Passage Project with Terra Firma, Innovation Law Lab and Team Brownsville.