When immigration is seen as a national and global threat throughout the world, these portraits can help us remember and reflect deeply on the reality that most Americans, unless descendants of slaves or Native Americans, are either im/migrants or descendants of im/migrants ourselves. Imagining their journeys can deepen our empathy.
This series of visual narratives honors all the courageous women who left their homelands and families behind, often under great duress, to immigrate to America and/or migrate across this country, to start their lives anew. Most of them spoke no English, and holding steadfast to their hopes for a brighter future, faced daunting challenges in order to establish themselves in this new world.
Each of these three-dimensional mixed media panels highlights the journey of an im/migrant woman. I have taken artistic liberties to tell their stories, basing my interpretations on research, coupled with my intuitive responses to their expressive faces. The result is analogous to creative nonfiction. Alongside several of the pieces you will find stories, some true and others imagined tales. I invite you to weave your own stories.
I have focused mostly on the women who immigrated here in the early 1900s, a time of great influx. Aside from family photos I had access to many of these photographs online and in the public domain. Using Photoshop, I digitally combined the portraits with my own photographs of landscapes, birds, trees, architecture, etc. After mounting prints of those collages onto three-dimensional wooden panels, I worked with paint to connect the imagery and tell the stories.