Alivio y Asilo

31 3Arts supporters
$6,045 raised of $6,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on June 05, 2023
    • 101% contributed

Blending my art practice and lineage with Curanderismo, a traditional medicine system, I’m developing a project called Alivio y Asilo that introduces the curative properties of portraiture as a means of helping people move through trauma. This project focuses on individuals experiencing legacies of oppression due to colonization by creating collaborative portraits of them as limpias, or soul retrievals.

About This Project

Rooted in Curanderismo, a traditional medicine system, Alivio y Asilo interweaves contemporary portraiture and spiritual cleansing rites as antidotes against illnesses caused from colonization’s oppression, creating healing rituals resulting in works of art. Alivio y Asilo is an individualized and personal approach to portraiture that re-imagines the relationship between sitter and artist, as I will work closely with my subjects over an extended period of time, using intuitive wisdom and divine guidance. This project opens up new possibilities for what portraiture can achieve.

Last year, I started creating limpia portraits of my family members and felt a deep connection forming as I drew their faces over many hours and adorned them with materials specifically chosen for them. I felt my own relationships shifting and heard from different family members who I had drawn about how the process had profoundly affected them and led to releases of stored energy and emotions. This power of art, attention, connection, of making others feel not only seen but glorified and ennobled, is something I want to continue to share with others. This portraiture series was exhibited with Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles and was spotlighted in Artillery Magazine

Alivio y Asilo aims to bring people back to these ancient healing traditions, putting power and self-efficacy back in our hands to identify the root causes of dis-ease. As an artist-healer, I will use paper, charcoal, beads, gorilla glue, prayer cards, ornate frames, family photos, and other atypical fine arts materials to create assemblages that not only document the limpia process but urge viewers to reframe their own narratives and family histories, and to re-value what has been denigrated by the dominant culture.

My mission is to perform limpias for twelve subjects, particularly those whose lives are or have been affected by being undocumented. Each limpia will result in a custom-made portrait of that individual. Each portrait will be surrounded by handmade beads, some containing fragments of medicine used in the process, such as miniature family photos and medicinal herbs, and some in the shape of animals called upon spiritually during the limpia for certain curative properties.

As the grandson of a curandera and myself a trained apprentice in this practice, I believe that Curanderismo is a gift from our ancestors, one that teaches us that the greatest medicine to heal from oppression is already inside us, thus centering our own Brownness as the medicine that will heal ourselves and our families.

In the United States, depictions of immigrants are often reduced to nameless masses on the margins toiling in fields and yards. This project will push viewers of the resulting portraits to examine these faces outside of existing hierarchies and challenge the status quo system of colonized medicine being used to address diseases that colonization itself has helped cause. I believe in the power of art to change both the way we think about ourselves and how society thinks about us. It reshapes a narrative that dishonors our spirit into one that uplifts it.

I am collaborating with Erika Hirugami (CEO of CuratorLove) and Federico Cuatlacualt, co-founders of Undocu+ Collective in Los Angeles; and Dr. Sandy Lopez, Director of the Undocumented Student Resource Center of Northern Illinois University, to help find people that would like to participate in these limpias. I am excited to find new partnerships. If you are an individual or organization interested in participating with Alivio y Asilo, please contact me so we may discuss further details.

With your support, Alivio y Asilo will culminate in an exhibition to be experienced in New York City with Latchkey Gallery in 2024.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Personal thank you on social media ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above, plus exclusive access to my weekly digital Curanderismo vlog ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above, plus a 1-hour online group limpia ($20.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $150
    Above, plus an "Alivio y Asilo" linoleum cut printed T-shirt ($55.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Above, plus a self-serve limpia kit (with homemade agua florida, crystals, and ancient remedy for susto) and a guided audio recording ($105.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Above, a signed original, photographic 8"x10" print of a limpia portrait (limited edition of 25) ($205.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $750
    Small personalized, handmade amulet created with beads and crystals, plus access to my vlog and a linocut T-shirt ($235.00 is tax deductible.)

Luis Álvaro Sahagun Nuño

Reva & David Logan Foundation Awardee

Luis Álvaro Sahagun Nuño was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. He creates drawings, paintings, sculptures and performances that confront the palpable inescapability of race and transform art into an act of cultural and spiritual reclamation. Sahagun grew up undocumented and …

View Luis Álvaro Sahagun Nuño's profile
  • Update 1: 31% funded!
    Posted on May 03, 2023


    We launched 12 days ago and because of your support we are 31% funded! 

    Update 2: WE DID IT!
    Posted on June 08, 2023


    I would like to thank all of you for making this project possible. Please know that your contributions will be directly facilitating healing for our communities. With all of the anti-immigration laws and rhetoric affecting folks all over the country, our project will work at helping folks feel seen, celebrated, and loved. 

    Just yesterday, I had someone come into my art studio seeking Alivio y Asilo (relief and refuge). After learning their story, I was able to connect them to an immigration lawyer (who is helping them for free), we found a place for them to sleep, and I have scheduled a spiritual cleansing that will result in a work of art. Once this portrait sells, they receive a portion of the sales. I was able to help them because of you, because of your support in this project. I see this as confirmation that I am on the right path and as the beginning of something special. 

    I am sending each and everyone of you my sincere love and gratitude. You all brought me so much hope.

    Abrazos y besitos (hugs and kisses)


    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Krista Smith

    • Benjamin Larose

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • S Brownrigg

    • Nancy Fleming

    • Robin Dluzen

    • Marilyn Zapf

    • Dorita Fuller

    • Sara Willadsen

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Katya Flores

    • Lili Galvan-Hernandez

    • Isaac Banda

    • Christel Dillbohner

    • Danae Mattes

    • Cate White

    • Jessica Ferrer

    • Sherri Denault

    • Ginny Raftery

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Jackie Amézquita

    • Jeanne Vega-Byrnes

    • Jess Segal

    • Salvador Jimenez-Flores

    • Teresa Silva

    • Marcela Torres

    • Carlos Galindo

    • Thiel Lauren

    • Jennifer Guzman

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Joey Terrill

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council