12th Generation Immigrant. | 2018

This image is inspired by the long history of immigration to the United States. The first person in my family to immigrate to the “new world” arrived as an indentured servant on the Mayflower in 1620. He came seeking a better life, new opportunity. The United States has served as a beacon of hope and opportunity for many people around the world, a place where perhaps a better life is possible. Although we are a conflicted nation built on the enslavement of African peoples and the slaughter of Native peoples, we have also become a place of opportunity for a diverse cross-section of the worlds population. When the current president of the United States sought to severely curtail the numbers of migrants entering the country, specifically those of Muslim heritage, it was deeply upsetting for the citizenry who believe that this land should be a place of refuge and a beacon of hope and opportunity for those who have been persecuted and seek a new beginning. This image imagines a child descendent from immigrants reflecting back on her family history, embracing the path her family has trod and believing it should remain a path for others seeking similar new beginnings.


#MeToo. | 2018

The Women’s March of January 2017 marked the beginning of a vital resistance that brought millions of people together with a sense of common goals. This mobilization has given rise to voices that have been ignored or silenced for far too long. The #MeToo movement of today feels like one of the ways our culture is shifting to acknowledge the true experiences of so many women. Each woman has a distinct personal and ancestral experience from the brutality of slavery, the rape and massacre of Native Women, the violence and aggression that comes with colonization to stories of more isolated incidents of rape and molestation. It is my hope that together we are stronger. That we as women of the 21st century are galvanized by both individual and collective history; that we desire to know deeply the experiences of others, to hold them up to the light in order to speak truth to a power that for centuries has been untouchable. Today we say no more, for our foremothers, the struggles they endured and the work they did to lay the cornerstones of who we are today, to the bright future we imagine for our daughter’s and our daughter’s daughters. This is our time.


In Preparation for Revolution. | 2018

Throughout history women have often taken a backseat role in preparing and supporting larger social movements, whether they are nurses to soldiers on the front lines or sewing the flags for a new nation, they often go unrecognized. This image imagines a woman in preparation for revolution, she is dressed in historical dress of the American Revolution, but knitting a hat similar to those worn by women in the Women’s March of 2017 that took place after the inauguration of the current US President. She is both woman past and woman present surrounded by the stars of the US flag, but in a crimson red rather than the traditional blue, to represent the blood spilled in revolutions, the lives lost both metaphorical or literal, in order for radical change to occur.

Note: The text above was written by the Artist. No modification was made by C.O.C.A.

Vanessa Filley

United States

Vanessa Filley was born in New York City in 1975. She received her BA from Oberlin College and was a human rights investigator at a law firm for six years before committing full time to art. She synthesize her art making in photographs, allowing her to design scenes, make costumes and conjure a certain sense of emotion and place. She has several long term series with overarching themes of childhood imagination and the female experience and is inspired by how history and memory shapes who we are in the present. In June of 2018 she completed a two month residency at the Frances Willard House Museum. She has been showing work, and won a number of juror’s awards, throughout the US and internationally since 2015. In 2018 she was one of Photolucida’s Top 50. She lives and works in Evanston,IL

Share this Artist