Impromptu Drawing of [US] : We are *almost All Immigrants

Impromptu Drawing of US : We Are *Almost All Immigrants is a participatory drawing and improvisational music event, based on the game of Musical Chairs—but in this activity, no one is ever left out. The performance is created in real time by the participants: those feeling marginalized and those in solidarity with the marginalized. We transformed our American flag into a flag of US. The Impromptu Drawing is a meditation on unity and sharing in which we break down imaginary boundaries that divide us while we create together playfully. Everyone is welcome!

The event took place at the studio of artist Connie Bostic in Fairview, NC, on Saturday, March 18.

Participants brought a brunch dish and musical instruments to share. Drawing supplies were provided. We met around a large table that had been painted to represent the American flag. There, we ate our meal together, after which we will drew each other’s faces—and faces on top of faces—to the stop-and-go rhythm of the emerging music we created together simultaneously.

No experience with drawing or playing an instrument is required for this activity. We will do this together. We will help each other out. Three languages that we all understand—food, drawing, and music—guided us through the process and brought us together.

musical table

^ This is a version from 2011. In our two most recent versions, our drawing surface was in the shape of and painted as our American flag, on it we drew US.

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^ Intimate, warm, lit space that hosted US. Thank you Connie Bostic!

+ Top image of the flag with faces on it is a representation of the idea done in collaboration with my daughter Sophia Arbelaez.


Event FB Invite

Video of what this transforming drawing looks like from a prior event

An interview on the project with Victor Palomino on La Radio, Asheville FM – then scroll down to the “listen” playlist, then hit PLAY. This is located right above La Radio’s Blog.

Visit an earlier version of this event and see more photos and information


musical table


The idea for this event came to me as a way to counter the divisive rhetoric and acts going on in our nation today: the talk of walls and the execution of bans and raids. This has led to rising tensions between stereotypes of people with some tragic outcomes. The marginalization of people is of course not a new phenomenon. This project is not new, either. It has been in development and practiced since my early years teaching art and architecture, more than two decades ago. It has served as an icebreaker with my students; on the first day of class, it helps everyone to feel comfortable with each other, and to lose any inhibitions about drawing. In this activity, everyone draws together, on top of each other’s drawings. As a collective drawing begins to emerge, there is no sense of ownership of the drawing, and therefore no judgments of “right” or “wrong,” as the drawing is everyone’s. The same open, creative process goes for the music. The feeling of exclusion is something all of us have experienced at some point. The intent behind this event is to share and to break down walls.

I am an American citizen who was born in Colombia S.A. My parents immigrated to the U.S. when I was just 13—a challenging time for such a transition. My experience in a completely different culture started in high school in Miami, where racial and cultural divisions led to tensions among Cubans, African Americans, Caucasians, and recent immigrants, mostly from Central America. I am an artist, designer, educator, and mother. My work, which stems from my involvement in all these fields, takes the form of participatory installations and products that investigate and attempt to restore balance to some of the environmental and humanitarian issues of our society.