'Sobrevivir' art installation recognizes past of coerced sterilizations at LAC + USC Medical Center

The floor artwork is surrounded by the words of the women who were directly impacted.
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An art installation unveiled Monday now sits at LAC + USC Medical Center titled "Sobrevivir," which means "to survive" in Spanish.

"This was tied specifically to a 2018 apology for the practice of coerced sterilization that asked us to partner here to create a commemorative artwork or memorial," said L.A. County Department of Arts and Culture director, Kristin Sakoda.

In the 1960s and 1970s, more than 200 women -- largely Mexican immigrants -- who gave birth at the medical center were sterilized, many saying they were not informed, were coerced, or misled into signing forms they could not read.

"I want the art to be impactful and meaningful and create a deep experience for contemplation for viewers," said artist Phung Huynh. "The material is made of metal to symbolize the mother's strength, and I want this to last forever."

The floor artwork is surrounded by the words of the women who were directly impacted.

Many of the quotes are from survivors interviewed in the documentary, "No Más Bebes," or "No More Babies."

"'If you speak English, they treat you one way. If you don't speak English, they treat you another way.' That quote was stated by Counsuelo Hermosillo," said the film's producer Virgnia Espino.

"The women in this case were so courageous and fought so hard and made a difference for a lot of generations to come, but they never had personal justice," said director Renee Tajima-Peña. "That also makes it really bittersweet."

Some survivors have passed away, including the godmother of Monica Alcaraz.

"I'm very proud and happy that I've been vocal and, you know, been able to support the community and what they wanted," said Alcaraz, who helped conduct community outreach for the project. "They wanted recognition, that's why they had the ceremony today."

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who hosted Monday's ceremony, co-authored the 2018 motion to issue a formal apology to the women.

Most recently, she's urged the state and the county to explore paying reparations to survivors.

"We know that there was state legislation, but it was more for state facilities," Solis said. "So, there has to be another effort made."

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