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Jaqueline Romo ’19: 15 pieces from The Passion of the Monarca Migrante series of woodcut prints. The Monarch butterfly has come to symbolize the resilience and hope of the immigrant community.

This article appeared in The Magazine of Dominican University (April 2020)

Stations of the Cross: A Migration Journey

Storytelling has deep roots in art history. In traditional painting, drawing, and printmaking, pictorial symbolism is used to help construct a narrative. Objects, animals, and places often serve as symbols for specific people or ideals. For her series The Passion of the Monarca MigranteJaqueline Romo ’19 composed 15 prints referencing the Stations of the Cross in a new and provocative way. Created for her senior art thesis project, Romo’s contemporary interpretation uses the Monarch butterfly to represent Jesus and, in an apt visual metaphor, the Monarch also references immigrants, who are frequently marginalized within U.S. society. 

Currently pursuing her master’s degree in Hispanic theology and ministry at the Catholic theological Union, Jaqueline was raised in Pilsen, a Chicago community with strong artistic roots. With public art displayed on buildings, alleys, and in gardens, the rich cultural presence was a strong influence on Romo. It also helped give her purpose. Interning at Dominican’s Ministry Center, Romo’s work is a convergence of design, theology, and cultural identity.

Using contemporary formal design elements while mining traditional artistic techniques, Romo’s The Passion of the Monarca Migrante successfully bridges the past with the present. According to the artist, “the Monarch butterfly has been used as a symbol of resilience for immigrants in the U.S. In its innate migration patterns, the Monarch butterfly is free to fly from the northern reaches of the US and Canada, feeding on the native milkweed plants, and flying back south to México to escape the cold winters.” 

Each station of Romo’s Passion represents an aspect of the journey undertaken when crossing the U.S.- Mexico border. While every border crossing story is unique, each one weaves together aspects of struggle, faith, community and, ultimately, survival.

”I wanted my work to represent the political side of immigration and the people who are living with such vulnerability,” Romo said. “My intention was to merge so many aspects of what I, as an undocumented person, have lived through—but in a hopeful way. If the Monarch butterfly didn’t make its difficult journey every year, successive generations would never exist.”