Art exhibit highlights family impacted by deportation

“Moments: What Moments Are Acceptable to Miss?” depicts life after mother is taken

What was most notable about the art exhibit held Friday at the Swords to Plowshares gallery was what it didn’t show. Laura Salas was unexpectedly swept up by immigration officials after she took her children to school, and was deported to Mexico. The oil on canvas paintings on display at “Moments: What Moments Are Acceptable to Miss?” depict slices of the lives of Doug Fleury and their three young daughters as they carry on without Laura.

“She lived here for nearly 2 decades, never did anything but help our community and suddenly, one day last year, she was detained. I was at work; the kids were at school. Imagine our total shock,” said Fleury.  “Imagine how shocked you would be to find a loved one had been taken from you. Unfortunately, this has happened to millions of families across the nation.” Fleury was on hand to show his support for Peter Gorcevic as he put his three children on an airplane to be with his deported wife in Albania.

The portraits were created by Melissa Wilson, a family friend and the 2018 Teacher of the Year at Lake Orion High school. “Art allows things to sink in a bit more than photographs. You tend to take more time with a painting and so I would like the story of Laura and her family to sink in,” said Wilson. “I want people to know Laura Sala is a mom, a wife, a human being that was very much a part of our community here until she was torn away from her life and family.”

The Sword Into Plowshares gallery is attached to the historic Central United Methodist Church. In a dormitory above the art show, Ded Rranxburgaj and his family have taken sanctuary for the past six months to avoid the fate of the Fleury and Gorcevic families.

“We are taking the opportunity afforded to us by this great artwork to step out and tell our story, to say we should not have lost my wife, my kids’ mom, to deportation and that no loved one should be taken away,” said Fleury. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone and so call upon our elected officials to create a humane immigration system that recognizes the rights of family members to stay together.”

The original “Moments” paintings and prints of them were available for sale in support of a legal defense fund to appeal Laura’s deportation and hopefully reunite the family one day. Supporters can also contribute directly through a GoFundMe account set up by the family.