"Zaatari is now the second-biggest refugee camp in the world; it's huge; it's got 120,000 people," Bergner says. "The idea is to work with refugees and get the kids involved and explore issues that are important to them in the camp, like water, sanitation, and hygiene, and also other things, like their hopes and dreams and the future, and going back to their country and getting their lives back. We're exploring that in workshops and creating public art about that."

Think globally, act locally. It's a truism that applies to many things, including street art. Bergner lives by that credo. El Inmigrante is his most evocative work in San Francisco. It's slightly off the beaten path, since 24th Street is the main corridor for street art in the Mission District. Walking a block out of the way is worth it to see Bergner's piece, though. You can feel that the artist behind the work also lived a life on the precipice, just like the life that's depicted. In San Francisco, Bergner eventually moved out of his car, into an apartment, where his roommate was a recent immigrant.

"My roommate was from Iraq, and I had friends from Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, and Colombia," says Bergner. "And these were all people who had arrived later in life. So they were living the immigrant experience in their day-to-day life. I thought it'd be a good ideal for a mural. This was before the immigration issue became really big in the national media. And so I felt it was something that many people were experiencing. I had also done work in Latin America, so I had seen the other side. I'd had a lot of friends when I spent time in El Salvador and the Dominican Republic who had family overseas.

Just off the beaten track, a quick story of immigration.
Photograph by Camila Bernal
Just off the beaten track, a quick story of immigration.

"Their daughters and brothers and whomever had left, so I'd seen it both from the immigrant perspective, from my friends," he says, "but also from the home country and what was going on there, and why people were leaving, and what it was like for people who didn't leave whose family members had left.

"I thought it would be especially interesting in the Mission."

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