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Beyond the Line: A family story

Jade Sacker | United States

Zoila, an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador, has not seen her son in fifteen years. In her mind, she still imagines him as a four-year-old child.

In the years that have passed since she left him with her mother in her birthplace of Ecuador, she has remarried and given birth to three American children, who have never met their brother.

Together, we created a book for Zoila's eldest son Sebastian, inspired by the family's desire to connect and understand the other's lives. The completed album includes original photography, handwritten messages, archival photos, and pictures her children took with disposable cameras. After the album's completion, I traveled to Ecuador to give the work to Sebastian, and we created a second book to give to his mother, Zoila.

The project is intended to create a portrait of American migrants' identity. To offer an insight into the sacrifices and motivations of those who risk their lives in search of the American Dream. In publishing this work, people from all backgrounds can see their children, parents, and values reflected in Zoila's story.

I am a documentary photographer currently based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, having graduated from the International Center of Photography last Spring.

I come from a Native American family on my mom's side, now culturally displaced from their land. My father's family descends from Russia, where they fled from the pogroms at the outset of the 20th Century.
My family refused to talk about the past and all that they had lost. As I grew older, I recognized that without understanding and accountability, there is no clear way to move forward, and no sense of resolution.

The unifying theme of my long-term projects is migration, telling stories of those who are displaced, and those whose identity is challenged.
My work is guided by the belief that writing and photography are two powerful mediums to provoke thought and effect enduring positive change. My projects are intended to advocate for a more just and tolerant world.




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