Undocumented Times / Queer Yearnings

undocumented times / queer yearnings

May 25–October 6, 2024

Curated By M. Liliana Ramirez

"As an undocumented trans immigrant woman, artist Alexa Vasquez has experienced a double marginalization in which she must navigate xenophobic, homophobic, and transphobic violence. The intersection of her identity as undocumented and trans is marginalized within undocumented immigrant communities, who frequently hold homophobic and transphobic beliefs. Similarly, she is confronted with anti-immigrant sentiments within many queer communities, who are often opposed to undocumented immigration despite their otherwise liberal politics. Consequently, undocumented queer and trans immigrants cautiously and strategically choose how and when to be out about their sexuality and/or immigration status. While this double marginality undoubtedly positions undocumented queer immigrants as one of the most vulnerable communities within the immigrant population in the U.S. and the country writ large, many undocumented queer artists are also using their lived experiences to empower their communities politically. Undocumented Times/Queer Yearnings tells an intimate story of coming of age as undocumented queer and trans in Southern California.  

Drawing from my personal experiences as a queer undocumented woman raised in Southern California and my doctoral research, Undocumented Times / Queer Yearnings showcases the work of an undocumented queer artist who first came to the U.S. as a child. As a team whose identities are deeply shaped by our experiences with the U.S.-Mexico border, having this exhibition at OMA holds an additional layer of meaning to the exhibition’s curatorial and artistic contributions. I crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with my mom at San Ysidro in 1999 when I was only four. After crossing, my mom and I made a home in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. Coming of age undocumented in a predominantly undocumented Latinx immigrant community deeply shaped my immigrant identity and sense of belonging. However, I also grew up hearing about family members or friends being deported, and I was constantly warned about avoiding certain streets where ICE was raiding a home. The conflicting realities of benevolent community support and ever-lingering anxiety about deportation is an experience shared by undocumented communities throughout Southern California.

Currently, Alexa and I live in different regions of Southern California.  Despite the geographical distance from border violence, the exhibition brings us together through art and curatorial practices. Through this exhibition at OMA, I hope to bridge different communities across citizenship status, race, and sexual orientation to expand the support networks for immigrant issues. I aim to leverage my personal experiences as a queer undocumented woman with the objective of creating an inclusive space for Southern California’s immigrant and arts communities to learn about critical issues impacting queer undocumented immigrants in our region. Alexa uses her stories as an undocumented queer immigrant to explore worlds that long for a future marked by queer joy and a past unmarked by the psychological impacts of displacement."

—Curator M. Lilliana Ramirez


Above: Alexa Vasquez, Herencia, 2022. Acrylic on canvas, 18" x 24".

Alexa Vasquez is a trans woman of color and child migrant from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. She is a multidisciplinary artist with a focus in painting, writing, and fashion. Her work is autobiographical, poetic and political and her visual artworks are inspired by Oaxaca, by the experience of a migrant longing to make it back home. Her writings are memories of growing up in an immigrant household, leaving home, transitioning, and exploring trans womanhood. 

Undocumented Times, Queer Yearnings installed at OMA


Saturday, June 8, 2024, 5:00-7:00pm

Reserve your tickets to celebrate with us on 

(Members free, Visitors $15)



Thursday, July 25, 2024, 6:00-7:30pm

Reserve your tickets for the next installment of OMA's conversation series that brings community leaders together with artists and curators to discuss current affairs which impact the health and well being of our region now and in the future.

($15 Visitors, $10 Members, $5 Artist Alliance / Students)

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