Just 545 Kids by Elsi Vassdal Ellis


In October 2020, the number of children reported separated from but not reunited with parents during the zero-tolerance policy of the Trump administration was 545. These children were invisible as innocents. Their faces concealed from the public, protected by law because they were children. What would have happened if we had seen their faces, looked into their eyes, saw how young and frightened they were (and their parents)? Here are faces of 545 children, from infancy to early adolescence, and 11 government officials. These are not THE faces of the 545 not reunited with family due to U.S. government sloppiness. These faces are the stand-ins. They are presented to remind us that regardless of whose children they are or where they were born, children deserve mercy. It was Helen Lovejoy in The Simpsons who exclaimed: “Won’t somebody please think of the children?” Some of the trauma experienced by these children will go unseen, permanent alterations to who they are and could have become.

Please note: This is a variable edition in terms of the variety of papers used for the text block and substrates for the crossed structure binding. Each book is a unique combination of materials. The portraits have been assigned a Pantone color to create a monochrome harmony between paper and content. The cover papers are either Iowa Paper Case Paper or Cave Paper. There is one exception to the monochromatic paper-ink harmonies: a red text block with black images and black exterior.

Artist Bio

Elsi Vassdal Ellis taught design production and book arts at Western Washington University for 40 years, retiring in June 2017. As EVE Press she has produced over 160 editions via offset, letterpress and digital printing, and 127 unique books since 1983. Her work is permanently housed in many public collections including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, New York City Public Library, Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Grabhorn Collection in the San Francisco Public Library, and Arts of the Book Collection in the Yale University Library.