P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Yehimi Cambrón Álvarez, 2023

MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Yehimi Cambrón Álvarez is an immigrant from Mexico

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MFA in Printmedia at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Yehimi Cambrón Álvarez was born in the small town of San Antonio Villalongín, Michoacán, Mexico. She became undocumented at seven when her family immigrated and recreated a home for themselves on Buford Hwy—the multicultural heart of Atlanta. The alienating feeling of not speaking English when entering Atlanta's public schools dissipated in the art classroom, where she thrived simply by creating. Art restored her self-confidence as an immigrant child and became inseparable from her being.

In high school, Yehimi learned about the implications of being undocumented when she won third place in an art contest but was denied the prize because she didn't have a social security number. The sobering realization galvanized her path toward playing a role in the multi-generational movement for immigrants' human rights through art. Yehimi became a first-generation college student when she received the Goizueta Foundation Scholarship at Agnes Scott College. In her junior year, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) granted her temporary work authorization and protection from deportation.

To wield DACA's work authorization in service to her community, Yehimi joined Teach For America (TFA), becoming one of TFA's first DACAmented educators in Georgia, and serving on their inaugural DACA Advisory Board to guide TFA's advocacy on behalf of undocumented educators, students, and families. After completing her TFA teaching commitment, Yehimi returned to her alma mater to teach high school art. She is currently a full-time artist and activist.

Yehimi's work honors immigrants and predominantly reflects the experiences of undocumented Americans.

Through her murals in Atlanta, Yehimi became a monument-maker to immigrants in the South, asserting their presence and humanity while confronting the idea of who is worthy of public celebration in the home of the nation's largest monument to the Confederacy. Yehimi's art and activism found a place in museums when she became the first-openly undocumented artist to exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. Yehimi aspires to develop her voice as an artist beyond overcoming the challenging social context of being an undocumented Mexican woman making art in the South while using every artwork to inscribe the voices of undocumented people so that they are visible in American history.

Education
  • MFA Printmedia | School of the Art Institute of Chicago 2025
  • BA Studio Art | Agnes Scott College
Awards
  • Atlanta 500: Our City’s Most Powerful Leaders in 2023, 2022, and 2021
  • Define American Fellowship (National)
  • Distinguished Mexican Diploma and Silver Medal, Institute of Mexicans Abroad
  • Goizueta Foundation Scholarship
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