Born to Spanish parents, and a self-described ‘nomad’ (spending her time straddling London, Madrid, various parts of the Mena region and, on occasion Boston) Virginia Alonso Navarro isn’t usually outspoken about politics.
However, Donald Trump’s decision to ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries – including the one her parents come from – changed that.
“I believe Trump’s latest move is discriminatory, no matter how you look at it”, she tells indy100 in an exclusive interview.
Trump’s Immigration Ban represents in my opinion a step backwards in global progress.
It deprives people from what I think is our most fundamental right — the right to be respected no matter what.
Using water colour paints as her tool, she created a set of illustrations titled ‘An Illustrated Exploration of the #MuslimBan’ in order to unpack and simplify the narrative around the topic:
This image is based on one of Navarro's close friends, who was born to Iranian parents
Her labour wasn't prompted by the ban.
She had started a project - which had over two hundred participants - where she drew people's answers to questions like 'what is your main purpose in this moment?', and 'what is the last lesson you learnt?'
It later evolved into the finished project, which focussed a great deal on Trump's executive order.
Seeing the positive feedback I was receiving, I started to think that there was something deeper to this project beyond the simple doodles — people were able to connect better and at a deeper level with each other’s yearnings and objectives, no matter who it was or where they came from
Researching articles and official documents around the topic of the ban, Navarro was able to collate and express the information in a concise manner.
I feel that particularly since Trump took office we have been fed vast amounts of information that leave the future of the country and the world very uncertain.
Navarro acknowledges that the noise in the media can become overwhelming, and make people feel powerless to change anything that happens around them.
I’d like to think that if I can echo what renowned media sources are saying in a visual, accessible format, it will help put all this information across in a way in which people can better empathise and understand what’s going on.
In her illustrations, she referenced a Bloomberg article that pointed out the exclusion of certain countries from the ban - notably where Donald Trump has business ventures:
The Trump administration did roll back the ban for dual citizens, but those holding student visas from the seven countries remain in the uncertain zone.
No matter how you look at it - US dual citizens, green card holders, young bright people on student visas, are all being denied entry to their very own lives, or at least humiliated at the border.
Your country of birth is not the problem. Religion is not the problem. Muslims are not the problem.
I even feel slightly ridiculous for needing to make that statement - humankind is extraordinary no matter your faith.
Picture: Virginia Alonso Navarro
Navarro is currently head of Innovation at AKTEK, a startup that helps leverage technology in conflict and post-conflict areas.
All illustrations supplied by Navarro, and you can see more of her work at virginialonso.com