Papalotes En Resistencia

Federico Cuatlacuatl

October 2, 2020 – November 14, 2020

Second Street Gallery is pleased to present Federico Cuatlacuatl: Papalotes en Resistencia, on view in the Dové Gallery from October 2 - November 14, 2020.

Opening day is Friday, October 2, from 3-7pm. Book your free appointment here.

In his exhibition at Second Street Gallery, Cuatlacuatl will explore the use of tradition and culture as political weapons by examining the Latinx custom of building kites. His installation in the Dové Gallery will combine various 3D kite models brought from Puebla, Mexico. Cuatlacuatl has worked closely with Pedro Cuacuas, a leading kite maker in Mexico with multiple national and international recognitions. In addition to the exhibition space, Cuatlacuatl’s project will include a community engagement component, inviting visitors to write letters to migrant children currently detained in the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. If you can't make it in person, you can submit a letter online HERE.

Seven children have passed away in migration detention centers in the hands of U.S Homeland Security. Families have been separated and children were detained in inhumane cages under new federal anti-immigration and xenophobic policies. Many underage migrants remain detained in federal detention centers such as the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Staunton, Virginia. Papalotes En Resistencia proposes to weaponize our communities through our very own culture, heritage, and traditions. This project seeks to arm and empower latinx migrant communities and allies through traditional kite-making practices smuggled from Federico Cuatlacuatl’s home state, Pueba, Mexico. Papalotes En Resistencia mobilizes our communities to protest immigration urgencies and to engage in the various tactics of cultural sustainability.

How do we weaponize ourselves with our own culture? How does culture become a weapon for thriving and sustaining?  How do we embrace being the ‘other’ under so much xenophobia as a means of resisting and building solidarity? How does smuggling one’s own heritage become an act of resistance?

This project recognizes that we are under a national emergency of a humanitarian migration crisis and the need for action, solidarity, and protesting through the weaponization of culture. To make and fly smuggled traditional kites collectively is an act of resistance, peaceful protesting, and anti-racism actions. A special thanks to Pedro Cuacuas, a nationally and internationally recognized kite-maker in Mexico who has shared his invaluable knowledge and skills with Federico Cuatlacuatl since 2018.

Born in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, Federico Cuatlacuatl immigrated to the United States in 1999 and now lives and works in Charlottesville as a multimedia artist and Assistant Professor in New Media at UVA’s Department of Art - Studio Art. Building from his own experience growing up as an undocumented immigrant and previously holding DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Cuatlacuatl’s research is primarily concerned with pressing realities in current social, political, and cultural issues that Latinx undocumented immigrants face in the United States. His work is invested in disseminating topics of Latinx immigration, social art practice, and cultural sustainability. Cuatlacuatl earned his BFA in computer animation at Ball State University and his MFA in digital arts at Bowling Green State University. His work has been featured at a number of exhibitions and film festivals throughout the United States and internationally, including Canada, Finland, Greece, France, Mexico, India, Portugal, and England. Cuatlacuatl is the founder of the Rasquache Artist Residency in his hometown of Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. 

If you are able, please consider donating the following supplies for migrant children detained in the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Staunton, VA. These are the most in-demand items at the Center, which we will update with any changes. We will be collecting items at the gallery (115 2nd St. SE) during regular hours:

  • Athletic balls (basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, footballs)
  • Books (paperback/soft only), middle school and high school reading levels. Bilingual and Spanish are ideal. Latinx poetry, novels, and authors are also ideal.
  • Puzzles (500 pieces minimum)
  • Basic art supplies
  • Amazon gift cards, physical or digital (for the gallery to purchase supplies)


Second Street Gallery tiene el placer de presentar Federico Cuatlacuatl: Papalotes en Resistencia, una exposición en la Dove Gallery de Octubre 2 – Noviembre 14, 2020.

En su exposición en Second Street Gallery, Cuatlacuatl explorará el uso de la tradición y la cultura como armas políticas al examinar la tradición Mexicana de construir papalotes/cometas. Su instalación en la Galería Dové combinará varios modelos de papalotes tridimensionales traídos de Puebla, México. Cuatlacuatl ha trabajado en estrecha colaboración con Pedro Cuacuas, fabricante experto de papalotes en México con múltiples reconocimientos nacionales e internacionales. Además del espacio de exhibición, el proyecto de Cuatlacuatl incluirá un componente de participación comunitaria, invitando a los visitantes a escribir cartas a los niños migrantes actualmente detenidos en el Centro Juvenil del Valle de Shenandoah.

Federico Cuatlacuatl es un artista actualmente profesor en el Departamento de Arte de la Universidad de Virginia. Su obra se empeña en difundir temas de inmigración, práctica de arte social y sostenibilidad cultural. Partiendo de su propia experiencia creciendo como inmigrante indocumentado y que anteriormente con estatus de DACA (Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia), la investigación de Federico se centra principalmente en las realidades apremiantes en los problemas sociales, políticos y culturales actuales que enfrentan los inmigrantes indocumentados latinx en los EE. El enfoque de su investigación y producción más reciente es la interseccionalidad de la indigenidad y la inmigración bajo un antropoceno apremiante. Las obras de Federico se han mostrado en exhibiciones y festivales de cine nacionales e internacionales. Como fundador y director de la Residencia de artistas Rasquache en Cholula, Puebla participa activamente en obras socialmente comprometidas y en esfuerzos transfronterizos.