Covid 19 Essential Workers.

During this pandemic many states in the US are under lockdown with the exception of essential workers. At this time we have seen construction workers still on site, this appears to be common place. Migrants need to work especially at this time as most are working paycheck to paycheck. The building companies turn a blind eye adopting a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy with reference to legal and illegal migrant staff.

Although these images are of apartment construction here in Houston, building of all types around the US is still ongoing. The latest problem area being a new sports venue for the Raiders, the Allegiant stadium in Las Vegas, where staff have contracted the virus. There have been no protocols regarding distancing and the wearing of protective masks up until the last few days.

It may be worth adding that during the time of this pandemic construction workers are not the only migrants being put directly in harms way. Meatpacking giants such as Tyson are being forced back to work by executive orders from the President of the US. It has been said that they are being given a death sentence. These workers are over 90% Latino, already there have been over 70 deaths due to the virus, but without any testing available the number of infections is unknown.

De Ferrier, Working through covid. 2020

‘New Raiders Stadium Records 7 Cases of COVID-19 on Construction Site’. 2020. [online]. Available at: [accessed 29 Apr 2020].

TALLET, Olivia P. 2020. ‘Why Houston Immigrants Feel “like They Suddenly Don’t Exist” Due to Coronavirus’. [online]. Available at: [accessed 29 Apr 2020].

TALLET, Olivia P. 2020. ‘Coronavirus Pandemic Leaves Houston Immigrants with “Confusion and Worries”’. [online]. Available at: [accessed 29 Apr 2020].

CULLEN, Art. 2020. ‘Why Is Trump Insisting That Meat-Packing Plants Stay Open despite Risks? | Art Cullen’. The Guardian, 1 May [online]. Available at: [accessed 1 May 2020].

Migrant labour.

De Ferrier, Welcome. 2020

My aim with this body of work was to shine a light on the work that migrants do constructing the new buildings on the outskirts of Houston, Texas. The intent was to draw attention to the work that no-one else will do. The Texas heat in summer is brutal, however these migrants still work. They work demanding dangerous jobs often without basic health care. They may be legal or illegal migrants, however one thing is certain and that is no one else will do this manual work. They are vilified by the people who will eventually benefit from their hard labour. I wanted to draw attention to the work that they leave behind, the work that will eventually be covered up. That the covering up erases their existence on these construction sites, that to see the hand rendered walls will be proof that they were there. Interesting to note that since the pandemic Covid 19 there has been absolutely no change to migrant workload. It is as if nothing has changed, landscapers still work, construction workers work, supermarket staff and farmworkers. Probably all without healthcare and they are currently the section of the community that is being hit the hardest during this pandemic.

De Ferrier, Erasing evidence. 2020

Interdisaplinary explorations.

American artist Julie Mehretu creates large scale interdisciplinary work on various supports. Mehretu’s work has always been an inspiration to me, due her multi layered, and multi disaplined approach to her pieces. Politized landscapes is especially interesting, from the awesome scale, screen printing, painting, context and concept. Working first with pixellated photographs Mehretu begins layering small pixels from images that were known for race riots, political activism and rallies agianst man’s inhumanity to man. Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa, she fled with her family to the US when she was seven. Mehretu makes art that depicts the cumulative effects of political and sociological changes, through the alteration of the local architecture and topography.

Julie Mehretu, Politized Landscapes.

My intention has always been to make work with an interdisaplinary approach, having made several small pieces in the last two modules. Migrants for many reasons do not want to be photographed, this together with being removed from all the building sites that I visited posed a problem. Could I show migrant children, interdisaplinary work and site photographs together?

De Ferrier, Construction collage unique state print. 2020

‘Julie Mehretu · SFMOMA’. 2020. [online]. Available at: [accessed 22 Apr 2020].

‘Julie Mehretu: “Mural” (SHORT)’. 2020. Art21 [online]. Available at: [accessed 7 Jan 2020].

Pictures like poems.

Jeff Wall, Overpass.

In an interview with Jeff Wall he states that people rather than look at photographs they look into them, and that this shift of attention causes the viewer to realize that they are looking at something and not through it. The viewer wants to understand ‘what is in them’ along with ‘what’s going on’, akin to reading poetry. Wall also states that people may get frustrated if they are having difficulty in reading the image, certainly interesting as I do feel that I have been in this position myself. Not understanding or not being able to read the photograph image can be very frustrating, and may ultimately make the viewer just move along. So this ability to read a photographic image is the key.

This interview with Wall struck a few chords with me as he goes on to talk about photographs being accompanied by lots of verbal description, and therefore people think that photographs are simple due to that. When the description is taken away, one has no choice but to relate to it as you would a poem.

Wall also mentions his ability to observe, and a ‘photographic seeing’, this is really interesting as I definitely approach my work this way. In ‘Overpass’ a reconstructed piece of work in which after seeing a group of people walking with bags Wall was driven to reconstruct the scene with other people. The ability to observe in the first instance led to this later work. I like Wall’s reference to the white truck, which he deliberately waited for, you can see that it balances the photograph. This photographic reading is quite clear to see in this image, from the dark cloud to the people, the bags, the lines on the sidewalk, and the industrial vents to the white truck. So we read this while our eyes travel the space within the frame, we may do this quite quickly, only to travel the surface again to confirm what we have seen, a truly poetic image.

‘Jeff Wall: Pictures Like Poems’. 2016. Context and Narrative [online]. Available at: [accessed 27 Apr 2020].

Migrant construction.

This is an image from my latest venture into the migrant construction world. As to construction within this frame I did make certain choices, as always the light is of concern, so a cloudy, overcast day is a prerequisite for me. Framing is also key, as I really wanted this to be a tight shot to create tension within the frame; the steel door is shut, and for me, that just made the shot. I can no longer get into these sites, so if the door had been open I would have moved on, as it would have lacked the meaning that I was looking for. Just next to this area there were migrant workers within a doorway, I chose this viewpoint instead due to the metaphors within the frame.

De Ferrier, Welcome. 2020

Further questions of authenticity.

Its an interesting question, that photographs may require unique methods of interpretation and evaluation. I agree with that to a certain extent, especially when analyzing technical aspects, and choices that have been made to produce work. That said traditional art, as in painting,  or printmaking will be viewed in the same way including the analyzing of signs and symbols within an image, and how skillfully the support has been prepared for application of chosen media. Cameras  were used by painters such as Vermeer to aid in rendering perspective and detail, this was described by Giovanns Battista della Portages in his book Magica Naturalis as stated in Photography , Vision and Representation, Synder and Allen. Niepce, Daguerre and Talbot were addressing the cameras ‘problems’ some 200 years later.

This module I have decided on interdisaplinary approaches, and for this I need my images to be a physical reality, so for now the ‘peculiar’  nature of photography, the film grain, lens distortion will not be evident.  

This image below is from a recent shoot in Katy, Houston. My intent is to show the migrant art work in the rendering of a building in the area before it is erased by stucco and paint. The concrete slabs I think make a clear reference to current political  tensions. 

De Ferrier, Migrant wall.2020

SNYDER, Joel and Neil Walsh ALLEN. 1975. ‘Photography, Vision, and Representation’. Critical Inquiry 2(1), 143–69.

Presentation and peer review.

De Ferrier, Original dwellers. 2020

I did manage to eventually load this presentation, and I will say that it was certainly worth the effort. Although it may not have felt like it at the time.

My feedback was very helpful, and certainly gave me the confidence to move forward with my intended subject matter. This type of exercise is not marked and given the circumstances it could have been tempting to task avoid. I will stress that at this point that this peer review was brilliant, and it really helped me to push forward in new directions in this particularly difficult time for our family.

Gallery and exhibition space

When home won’t let you stay, artwork addressing global migration.

Detail Reena Saini Kallat – Woven Chronicle. Photograph: Jonathan Muzikar/Courtesy the artist and Nature Morte, New Delhi

Kallats work shows a full scale woven map of the world depicting migrant routes around the globe. Although the work was completed in 2016 Kallat sees this, quite rightly, as a work in progress and still adds routes that represent todays migrant movements.

This collaborative work shown in Boston, When home won’t let you stay, focuses on the migration and displacement of people around the globe. I feel that this exhibition space, and theme would be a good fit for my work visually, aesthetically and contextually. I feel comfortable in a gallery setting having had a reasonable amount of experience in this area, I am also very comfortable within an interdisciplinary frame. This curated collection contains many disciplines which I find inspiring. 

The Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum is showing Exodus II from 2002, a sculpture that connects a pair of suitcases with strands of hair, suggesting separation from familial roots.

Mona Hatoum Exodus 11 Suitcases with human hair.
Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galinda Border Cantos.

Richard Misrach from his series Border Cantos. 2004-2016.

Ricard Misrach documented the 2,000 mile long border between the USA and Mexico for this series Border Cantos. This area has been the center for recent political polarization regarding the influx of asylum seekers trying to gain entry into the US. This area is often ‘guarded’ by vigilante groups who have no connection to the authorities. 

The work in this gallery setting is really inspiring. I believe that researching these artists can really inform your own work and if you are interested in pushing boundaries, as I am, this type of research is critical. My interests are broadly speaking related to photographic observation in the first instance, from there my work can include printmaking, installation and painting. In order to push boundaries it is very important to accept, own and document all the failures that can, and will happen in the process. If these failures are documented you have the ability to return to them at a later date, they may not be helpful for you in your current body of work, but they can be for future explorations.


CNN, Catherine E. Shoichet and Paul P. Murphy. 2020. ‘This Militia Group Is Accused of Kidnapping Migrants at the Border’. CNN [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 Mar 2020].

Tate shots interview Peter Fraser.

This was quite a short, but fascinating interview with Peter Fraser on his work. Fraser states that he never sets out to do anything, he just takes his camera and waits for moments. This is really interesting, and I wonder if this approach was influenced by William Eggelston, as Fraser states that when he was working with him he was constantly thinking of England.

Fraser embarked on a twelve day trip and photographed along the way. He came back with the idea that he would like to photograph London as if he had never seen it. These are ideas and approaches that resonate with me and my own migrant existence, I am fortunate to be constantly able to photograph things that I have never seen before. Fraser states that what interest him is this mysterious range and scope of the unconscious mind. Often I do not seek things out, but I do have a very keen eye for the mundane, banal and the overlooked. This interview was helpful in establishing why I photograph the things I do, and it is simply because I have not seen them before.

De Ferrier, New store. 2020

Fraser’s work on small things actually did not interest me as much, of course these are great images, but the subject matter did not engage me. What was very interesting was his approach, and the idea that the subject matter would present itself.

De Ferrier, Incoming consumerism. 2020