Lupita Murillo Tinnen was born in Fort Worth, Texas. She serves as an Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Collin College in Frisco, TX. From 2005-2016, she was Professor of Photography at Collin College. Tinnen earned a Ph.D. in Aesthetic Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her dissertation addressed the historical portrayal of immigrants in documentary photography, the use of the photograph for social advocacy, and defined methods for the post documentary. She holds an MFA in Photography from the University of North Texas and a BA in Photography from Texas A&M Commerce. As a practicing artist, her work deals primarily with cultural and personal issues stemming from her background as a first-generation Mexican American. Her work has been exhibited widely across the United States. Additionally, Tinnen serves as the treasurer for the Texas Photographic Society.
Throughout my photographic career, the subject of my work has been the Mexican immigrant and undocumented community. It is special to me because my parents are Mexican immigrants. The focus of this body of work is on undocumented college students that were photographed in 2009-2010. Below is the statement that I wrote and shared with the work.
I am very passionate about the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, and I use photography to give these undocumented students an identity. The DREAM Act is a bipartisan proposal, which would create a pathway to citizenship for thousands of young students who were brought to the United States years ago as infants and young children and through no fault of their own, are undocumented. Each of these otherwise law-abiding students came to the United States from different countries at different ages and they all want to be allowed an opportunity to pursue a pathway to be American. The United States, for many, is the only country they know. Through my photography, I am able to bring attention to the political issue. These young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents had no say in the matter, and are caught in the middle of a failed immigration system.
Through the details and objects found in the bedrooms, I show how they are American in every sense, except unlike the average American student, once these undocumented students graduate from college, they are unable to obtain a job. I have chosen not to show their faces so as not to disclose their true identity, yet I want to show their existence. In addition, I have added text to the images to give each person the opportunity to share their personal stories. Each image is titled with the age they were brought to the United States and their college major. All of the students I photograph have demonstrated a commitment to hard work, and are currently attending various colleges around North Texas. These educated students want nothing more than to be able to contribute to the only country they know and love.