One morning, when JR awoke, an image lingered from his dreams: The wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and above it a young kid peering curiously over.
A child just 1 year old, who has "no idea that's a wall that divides people — he has no idea of the political context," JR imagined. "What is he thinking?"
He had no answers to his question, but the question stayed with him — and eventually, the French street artist decided to give it form. This week, within days of the Trump administration's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting 800,000 immigrants, JR erected a massive artwork towering dozens of feet above the existing wall.
The boy, hair swept to the side and focus drawn by an unseen object, peeks with evident interest from the Mexican side over the slats of the wall at Tecate, Calif., as if looking over the railing of his crib.
And as JR tells it, he didn't have to search long for the work's inspiration. While seeking residents willing to let him build on their land, he met a woman who was game for the project — and as they spoke, he noticed a little interloper eavesdropping on their conversation: her son.
"There was a little kid looking at us the whole time with two hands on the side of his crib looking at us," the artist who goes by the pseudonym JR tells NPR's Ari Shapiro, "and I was like, 'Damn he looks exactly like that kid I dreamed of.' "
With the mother's permission, he took the child's photograph, blew it up to gargantuan proportions and enlisted help to get the work built.