I Came from Far Away but I Am Here Now

July 18 – August 31, 2018

  • Artist Reception, Thursday, July 19, 5:30-7:30 pm
  • Lunch Box Artist Talk, Thursday, July 26, 12 noon

Eighteen artists hailing from all over the world (Europe, South America, Asia, Middle East, South Africa) exhibit artwork about experiences of being an immigrant in a new land. All artists are currently living in Oregon.

Except for Indigenous People, ours is a nation of immigrants. Whereas immigration was once a founding and uniting element, it has become a subject of discord, so it is crucial we continue the conversation though visual medium that is accessible whether or not English is your first language. The Arts Center sought out immigrant artists to express their experiences through visual art.

Personal expression through the visual arts can play a role in finding ones place and identity, while also alleviating a sense of isolation since it is a form of communication. By sharing these very different personal experiences through art, our goal is to cultivate tolerance and empathy for all newcomers to our community.

The Arts Center acknowledges there are voices not represented in this exhibit:  artworks from individuals who are participants in the harrowing immigration stories we see on the news on a daily basis.

Artists participating in this exhibit immigrated from all over the world:  Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East and South Africa.  Some were practicing artists their countries of origin, while others discovered art as a form of expression once they came here. These differences extend to how the artists define their art. For some it is expression of social engagement, creating a discussion, commenting on estrangement. For others it is a more personal expression of loneliness, bewilderment in a new surrounding or even “seemingly seamless” integration. Each artist comments on very personal experiences and ways of communicating through their art.

There is a genuine feeling of promise when Jose de Jesús González Campos (from Mexico) describes: “I have found material well-being, comfort and safety” that allowed him to  develop interests in less material activities. “I had liked drawing since I was a kid, but I had never used brushes and paint until I came to Portland. [ ] I had become interested in going to galleries and museums, something I had only done here in the US.”

Hanife Karaçan Bayram (from Turkey) speaks about isolation “Without a working permit and with little English knowledge, life has not been easy for me. After improving my English, I started to work on my dream, studying Graphic Design [ ] My journey in America to myself is still in progress.”

Artists who responded to our Call for Immigrant Artists have immigrated for a variety of reasons: economic opportunity, education, and sense of adventure. Curator Hester Coucke, an immigrant herself, observes: “All of these different immigrants make up the fabric of the American population and culture. Some remain feeling as strangers, others blend, but most of the time it is somewhere in the middle.”

Participating artists are:

  • Akram Al-Sarraj (Iraq)
  • Dominque Bachelet (France)
  • Greg Bal (India)
  • Julia Bradshaw (England)
  • Shuo Cai (China)
  • Jose de Jesús González Campos (Mexico)
  • Daniel Valdes Chavarria (Mexico)
  • Elena Chavarria (Mexico)
  • Andries Fourie (South Africa)
  • Valeria Dávila Gronos, (Argentina),
  • Sabina Haque (Pakistan)
  • Hanife Karaçan Bayram (Turkey)
  • Chính Lê, (Viet Nam)
  • Elly Love (Croatia, Canada)
  • Mami Takashima (Japan)
  • Elena Valdes-Chavaria (Mexico)
  • Ptricia Vazquez Gomez (Mexico)
  • Shu- Ju Wang (Taiwan)
  • George Wilson (Scotland)

Our thanks to Juliet De La Rosa (from Mexico) for meeting with artists to share this exhibition opportunity on our behalf. Her assistance curating community dialog to give artist’s a voice is greatly appreciated.

The Arts Center, a community organization, fosters creativity and engagement with the arts among people of Linn & Benton communities, as well as the region. Such engagement encourages personal growth and well-being on an individual and societal level. Art is a universal language and we welcome and value open dialogue and creative connections that occur in our public programs. We believe an exhibit about immigration fits our mission well.