Salon Series presents “Stories of Immigration” panel
The Santa Clara
February 8, 2018
Approximately 60 community members gathered in the Dowd Art and Art History Building last Friday and listened intently as artists shared their immigration experiences and passion for activist-themed artwork.
The pieces belong to the “Beyond Border: Stories of Immigration” exhibition, which intends to humanize immigration and explore the cultural identities of migrants.
It is part of the Salon 2018 Series, which are put on by the College of Arts and Sciences. The Salon events will take place throughout weeks 4-7 of this winter quarter.
Amidst a turbulent climate surrounding immigration, particularly surrounding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), the exhibition is especially timely.
Curator Sherri Cornett explained that the panel was an opportunity to better understand immigration through art and dialogue.
“These conversational gatherings are integral to our exhibitions because we believe that art becomes the framework in which people can enter into a deeper understanding and questioning,” Cornett said.
The immigration story of artist Tessie Barrera-Scharaga, whose art is featured in the exhibit, consists of traveling throughout North America as a child.
Her parents are Colombian and Salvadoran and met in the United States as college students. The piece focuses on her childhood in Latin America through painting and a three-dimensional paper with lyrics of Latin America children songs.
Barrera-Scharaga permanently moved to the US as a teenager. Upon her return, she discovered her passion for feminism and art as a form of activism.
“I grew up in Latin America, where the roles for women are very defined,” BarreraScharaga said. “When I came to the United States (I remember) women protesting in the city of New York, burning their bras in garbage cans. I thought this is the place I need to be. Watching women taking matters into their own hands was exhilarating and at that moment, I was determined to join that effort.”
German native Doerte Weber grew up in a country separated by a wall. She believes that walls divide people, rather than affirm their shared humanity.
Living in San Antonio, Texas, Weber witnessed the border wall placed in the backyards of working class people rather than wealthy areas. Weber channeled her frustration into art.
She wove panels out of donated plastic newspaper bags to be placed along the border wall.
Though an immigrant herself, Weber’s art focuses on immigration of other ethnic groups. Weber expressed frustration that she was treated more favorably than other immigrants.
Although she lacks control of her own privilege, Weber expresses solidarity with other immigrants.
“It’s painful how my case was handled compared to everybody`else. I felt a little bit ashamed,” Weber said. “I can’t change how I am treated. I have no control over it. But I can have a voice and I can have a voice for people who have no voice.”
Artist Priscilla Otana explained that her previous artwork focused on examining cultural aspects of Japan less known to foreigners, including their social caste system and use of abortion as the most common birth control.
Within the exhibit, she utilized pink umbrellas hung over head to symbolize immigrant stories of resistance.
Salvadoran immigrant, Carlos Cartagena, focused on the Syrian and East African migration in his painting.
Inspired by a Biblical story, Cartagena tried to capture the agony of leaving one’s homeland with uncertainty of returning.
He hopes that the exhibit promotes a sense of oneness amongst immigrants and nonimmigrants. Cartagena recognizes the tendency for humans to divide themselves into groups but ultimately, he believes everyone should be treated with dignity.
The Salon Series made its debut in 2016 as a way to facilitate discussions about social responsibility in the world today. The 2018 theme is Culture, Power, Difference.
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