GATEWAY: An Artistic Response to the Immigration Crisis!
Art for Change presents
Gateway: An Artistic Response to the Immigration Crisis
Harlem Gateway II, 2082 Lexington Ave at 126th St, 1st & 2nd Floors,New York, NY
September 5 – September 30, 2010
“While New York City, East Harlem in particular, offers one of the most diverse populations in the U.S., immigrants here still suffer from a stalled and dysfunctional immigration system rife with injustice and inefficiency. With little action being taken in Washington and an ever-alarming escalation of anti-immigrant sentiment, Art for Change has launched an immigration campaign to increase awareness of the plight of immigrants while redirecting the current rhetoric of criminalization.” – Eliana Godoy, Founder, Art for Change
Art for Change is pleased to present Gateway: An Artistic Response to the Immigration Crisis, a group exhibition showcasing artworks by international and national artists Patricia Cazorla, Esperanza Cortes, Aissa H. Deebi, Roberto De Jesus, Laura F. Gibellini, Marissa A. Gutiérrez-Vicario, Alejandro Endoke Makuendo Guzman, Gabriel Pacheco, Tara Parsons, Michael Pribich, Elisa Pritzker, Gabriel Reese, Nancy Saleme, Christina Stahr, and special installation by Michael Sherman. Through drawings, sculptures, and site-specific installations, artists explore historical and contemporary narratives within immigration including: acculturation; gentrification; economic inequality; discrimination and racism; the “culture of exile” and plight of refugees; immigration policies, regulations and reform; as well as the controversial roles played by politicians, activist groups, and privatized media.
Artists trace the path of immigrants beginning with Deebi’s Don’t You Forget About Me (Hope/Amal), an installation of 1000 paper nightingales which embodies the inspirational journey of global migration. The relationships, dreams, hopes, and cultural values that support the voyage are given a voice within Parsons’ bed installation, Up All Night Sleeping, which invites viewers to express their own intimate stories. Gutiérrez-Vicario’s reconstructed container unit, Storage focuses on the plight of refugees and the issues of forced displacement and survival that they endure. Pritzker’s cardboard Immigrant Suitcases underscore the profound loss immigrants experience in leaving behind personal relationships and memory-laden objects. De Jesus’ Main Course Cargo [Vamos Allá] sculpture of disposable, detergent bottle-caps highlights the commoditization in human trafficking that treats people as import / export merchandise. Pacheco’s Shadows: Immigration, Migration, and Transportation drawings open a dialogue on reasons which drive people to migrate and the current public policies and human rights issues they confront globally. In Pribich’s, Ladder of Success, utilizes stepladders and brass tubing to honor the contributions of blue-collar street laborers as well as acknowledge the idealized and often unattainable promise within the “American Dream” and the harsh reality of immigrant workers in the U.S. Cazorla and Saleme specifically address the consequences of the recent immigration laws in Arizona on migrant workers in their mixed media mural, DeFence. Gibellini’s site-specific mural, (In) Habitation I explores the politics of “space” and “place” negotiating the physical and psychological aspects of acculturation built into immigrants’ daily lives through adaptation and integration. Guzman takes on a shamanistic role with his El Guaraguao en El Barrio, encompassing himself in a mountain of locally found objects while holding a taxidermy red tail hawk indigenous to both New York and Puerto Rico for a performance that celebrates cultural differences while underscoring our shared history and humanity.
Cortes and Reese document and memorialize the priceless legacies of immigrants, specifically in East Harlem. During Hacia Afuera, Cortes interviewed and photographed elder immigrants about their experiences in Esperanzas en el Jardin de las Esperanzas, while Reese’s painting American Rose pays homage to the cyclical, cross-cultural nature and dynamic beauty of the American Barrio as a haven for immigrants, offering hope and opportunity amid alienation. Stahr welcomes visitors to walk along her Red Tape Labyrinth to reflect upon the concept of passage, process of migration, and states of transience. Students from The Border Project share their perspective of living amid the present-day cultural and political borders of Arizona, Mexico, and the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation.
Michael Sherman’s Tree Screens installation at Harlem Gateway II draws further on themes of acculturation, employing used cardboard found at nearby construction sites and brown paper often used to cover vacant retail windows to shape a pattern of abstract trees accentuating the aesthetic characteristics of the materials and emerging organically from the space. Sherman’s installation transforms a vacant space into something unique and beautiful without any outside materials, metaphorically speaking to the way immigrants arrive at a new, unfamiliar place with minimal material possessions, and transform the existing area into a beautifully unique neighborhood laden with culture. Sherman’s permanent Tree Screen mural on 125th Street and 5th Avenue similarly draws on the inherent aesthetic qualities of the existing brick wall, employing techniques used in building restoration to bring to the surface a design arising genuinely from the building itself in a discreet and non-infringing way. In their greatest sense, the immigrant experience as told through all the artworks in the exhibition highlights concepts of sustainability of our society’s long-term potential, dependent upon responsible use of resources and balancing the disruptive relationship between both humans and their environment, and among humans with each other.
By engaging artists as a voice for social justice, Gateway: An Artistic Response to the Immigration Crisis hopes to both challenge and inspire individuals, families, local communities, greater society and government in working together towards fair and ethical immigration reform.
Based out of East Harlem, Art for Change is a non-profit (501c3) organization that provides a forum for creating innovative art and media programs that inspire people to take an active role in social justice. Gateway: An Artistic Response to the Immigration Crisis is presented as part of Art for Change’s exhibition program “Art Belongs to Everyone” funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The exhibition is made possible by space donation by ddm development and services, a long-time community developer in Harlem, converting vacant lots into garden oases and creating affordable housing, public schools, and mixed-use buildings with beautification projects and artwork, such as artist Michael Sherman’s “Tree Screens,” and Erin Furey’s hand-painted tree on plywood and local florist Colin Abraham’s “Pollen Nation” tree-branch display in the Harlem Gateway II lobby, all reflecting appreciation of preserving historic buildings, recycling of materials, use of found objects, and delight in trees. The building also features wall covering made of recycled wood products and green roof allowing every raindrop to support new growth, not flow down the drain.
Art for Change is a non-profit (501c3) organization that provides a forum for creating innovative art and media programs that inspire people to take an active role in social justice. For more information on the exhibition or artists, please contact Alyssa Fridgen at 347-804-8336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Art for Change, please visit: www.artforchange.org.