A timely exhibition at Macalester College combines oral histories and printmaking to bring immigrant experiences to life

Raoul Deal, “DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals),” Immigration Series #10, woodcut, 2013.

In light of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, announced last week, Raoul Deal’s exhibition of new and recent work in Macalester College’s Law Warschaw Gallery seems especially timely. At the center of his show, “Ni De Aquí Ni De Allá (From Neither Here Nor There),” are large woodcut prints and paintings inspired by oral histories the artist collected from Latino families living in his adopted hometown of Milwaukee, as well as his research into various images and texts used by the immigrant rights movement, particularly those at the intersection of printmaking and activism.

Deal is on faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts and is the artist-in-residence for the university’s Cultures and Communities Program, where he’s charged with generating “community art projects and interventions in Milwaukee neighborhoods.”

Raoul Deal, “Ni De Aquí, Ni De Allá (From Neither Here Nor There)”, woodcut print

Raoul Deal, “Ni De Aquí, Ni De Allá (From Neither Here Nor There),” woodcut print.

He moved his family to Wisconsin in 1998, after a decade living in Mexico; upon arriving in the States, for a number of years he was as an arts specialist in Milwaukee classrooms, working closely with schoolchildren and families from immigrant communities. He’s intimately familiar with the issues and larger narratives at play – personal, political and historical. As a result, his work is exquisitely sensitive to the unease of displacement that comes from living with a foot in two cultures, the sense of unwelcome, even hostility, that too often follows newcomers to this country. In an interview last year with the UWM school newspaper, he noted the cyclical nature of such tensions: “The proliferation of anti-immigrant sentiment in the political rhetoric and popular images at the turn of the 20th century is similar to what we hear and see today.”

Raoul Deal, "Dream Act," woodcut print

Raoul Deal, “Dream Act,” woodcut print.

“Ni De Aquí Ni De Allá (From Neither Here Nor There): New and Recent Work by Raoul Deal” is on view in the Law Warschaw Gallery of Macalester College from November 8 to December 12, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul. The show’s closing event at 7 p.m. on December 12, “You Can’t Break Us: Stories of Resilience,” will feature poetry and spoken word centered on testimonies drawn from local immigrant and refugee communities. For more information, visit