Juan Ortiz is an artist, activist and community organizer who focuses on raising awareness and consciousness around issues of immigrant rights and mass incarceration as they affect both sides of the border. He creates art through “actions” and “interventions” that are not quite lobbying nor campaigns and not quite objects nor performances.
Juan’s voice is deeply informed by both lived experience and careful study. In and out of juvenile detention centers by 14, spending years fighting false charges only to be found innocent, he seeks to highlight how his experience of mass incarceration is individual, but also collective, generational and structural. Juan received a Master of Art in art and public policy from New York University, a Master of Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art, and his doctoral dissertation from University of Arizona is on “Mass-Incarceration in a Border Context, the Borderless Carceral State.” He is a member of the Tornillo: The Occupation Coalition, a convergence of artists and activists from around the country, that came together to occupy the children’s detention camp that opened in Tornillo, Texas (a suburb of El Paso). He is a 2017 Right of Return Fellow and 2020 Art for Justice Fund Fellow.