Students from West Shore Community College (WSCC) and Mason County Central High School (MCC) are the artists behind a new exhibit in the college’s Manierre Dawson Gallery, “Crossing Borders: Carrying Home Traditions.” Those students and their teachers will share their creative experience in a panel discussion on Jan. 23, at 7 p.m., at Oceana Community Services Building in Hart.
The exhibit is inspired by photographer Jim Lommasson, who was featured in a gallery exhibit last semester. His images capture items brought by refugees from Iraq and Syria, now living in the U.S., that both remind the refugees of the homes they left and help them build new homes here.
With stories written in the handwriting of the refugees themselves, Lommasson seeks to share the story of the human side of leaving one place and rebuilding home somewhere else.
“Crossing Borders” opens up conversations about the ways many people are displaced, from ‘home’ in one community, to rebuild a ‘home’ in another.
Guest curator and MCC art teacher Rachel Brock, said, “The artworks in this exhibit reveal what it has been like for migrant families in our community, foreign exchange students at MCC, and the students at West Shore to be uprooted from one home to re-establish themselves and their traditions somewhere else. It’s something the students and Bill (Sievert) and I as instructors believe is shared by almost everyone.”
“Each of us,” Brock added, “has left one home to re-establish ourselves somewhere else.”
To create the art for the exhibit and following in Lommasson’s steps, WSCC photography instructors, Bill Sievert and Brock, took college and high school art students to visit the Oceana Hispanic Center where the students met and interviewed several migrant families, photographed their objects, and recorded their stories. The photos in the first part of the exhibit feature these migrant families.
The families, with their school-aged children, move two to three times a year from the area’s local communities to either Texas or Florida to do seasonal work, and back again. The children are not only moving from home to home, they are changing schools two or three times a year as well.
The second part of the migrant photo exhibition showcases items brought by several Mason County Central students when they came with their families to the area. High school art students photographed the items and, like those from migrating Hispanic families, are presented along with their personal stories of why these items are treasured.
MCC students also interviewed several international exchange students and photographed the items they brought to the U.S. to remind them of their homelands. These students live with host families in the area who help bridge the world cultures together.
Every year, thousands of exchange students from over 90 countries come to study in area high schools and live with host families. Many exchange students are traveling away from their homes and families for the first time. While some families come to visit on holidays or at graduation, many students will not see their families for the duration of their year-long stay in the states. Many of these students brought items to help them share their cultures.
The last section of the exhibit focuses on individual life-changing circumstances that, according to Brock, “transform notions of home, shift hearts and minds, and move each of us through our journeys.” Several WSCC photography students created storyboards that share a distinctive and intimate visual autobiography of a life altering-moment.
The panel discussion is free and open to the public and the exhibit, is open daily Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The panel discussion and exhibit are part of the year-long college sponsored Humankind Series, “Whose Place is it? Insiders and Outsiders in the Middle East and the U.S.”
Future events include a discussion of writer and actress Najla Said’s memoir, “Looking for Palestine” at the Pentwater Public Library on Jan. 30, at 7 p.m., a free event, and a theatrical performance by Said of “Palestine” on Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m., at the Hart Middle School Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $10.
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the series on Facebook.com/humankindWSCC.