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The Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery at Christian Brothers University (CBU) announces two new exhibitions opening on February 22, both of which deal with the subject of immigration. “Migration Now” is a collection of handmade prints that address the act of migration and immigration, and the political, social, and racial issues that often accompany it; “Mi Casa es Your House” features recent work by Vanessa Gonzalez in the gallery foyer.
A public reception for the exhibitions will be held next month — on Friday, March 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Both exhibitions will run through April 10.
“Migration Now” is a traveling exhibition of a limited-edition portfolio of handmade prints that address migrant issues from the organizations Justseeds and CultureStrike. Justseeds is a decentralized, worker-owned cooperative of artists throughout North America who are committed to social, environmental, and political engagement. CultureStrike is a broad network of artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and other cultural workers who work to transform public views and sentiment around migration, and to fight for equity and full inclusion of migrants and their communities in America’s social fabric.
The artists represented in “Migration Now” explore the migration of people around the world, with special attention to those who have come into the United States from south of the US-Mexico border, including young people known as “Dreamers.” These prints address the underlying social, economic, and security conditions that force individuals to leave their homes, as well as conditions encountered during the journey and at the border. At a time when our nation is consumed by debates over immigration policies, these artworks powerfully remind us of our common humanity and of the forces that drive many millions of people to travel and relocate around the world.
“Migration is a phenomenon, not a problem — something that simply is,” Justseeds proclaims on its website. “The right to migrate and to move freely is our human right. When societies restrict or choke off the movements of their citizens, they end up doing the work of a dam — they generate power and control floods, but in doing so they destroy life and wreck the surrounding space. We want to re-imagine migration as an inevitability, as a social practice that is not to be prevented but to be related to, like weather.”
Vanessa Gonzalez is a printmaker, ceramicist, and bookmaker who regularly incorporates mixed media into her work. Born in Texas and raised in Mexico, Gonzalez was always exposed to Latinx art and culture, which inspired her to become passionate about its rich cultural traditions. She currently lives in Memphis, where she earned her MFA at Memphis College of Art and currently works as an elementary school art teacher at a local charter school. Her artwork has been exhibited not only in the United States but internationally as well, in Mexico, Australia, and Germany.
“Mi Casa es Your House” explores multiple factors of Gonzalez’s Mexican-American identity, celebrating and exploring her Mexican heritage and her acceptance of her dual citizenship status with iconic imagery, mixed with expressions of confusion regarding what is required to be part of a nation, an everyday struggle with immigration, assimilation, discrimination.
“The need to find a way to integrate the beautiful, harmonious, culture of my two home countries into my work is heavily rooted in my personal struggle over my cultural identity,” Gonzalez says. “I constantly use images that certify my identity and nationality, something that proves my identity, where I belong. These images not only serve as a representation of my two homelands, but they also show how I constantly cross an emotional border between these two societies. These ‘border-crossings’ create the feeling of transient cultural explorations that helps me accept my dual citizenship, that creates a feeling of belonging within the two cultures.”
In conjunction with these gallery shows, CBU will host local artist (and CBU alumna) Yancy Villa-Calvo’s nationally-exhibited art installation Barrier Free in CBU’s Buckman Quadrangle during the week of March 25-29. Information regarding events planned around the installation will be forthcoming.
These exhibitions are funded in part by a grant from Conexión Américas.
The Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery is located on the lower level of Plough Memorial Library in the center of the CBU campus on the Buckman Quadrangle, easily accessible from the Central Avenue parking lot. All exhibits and lectures are free and open to the public.
For more information, contact gallery director Cat Peña at (901) 321-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org — or visit cbu.edu/gallery.