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At the Arts Center: 'I Came From Far Away, But I Am Here Now,' an Exhibit of Immigrant Artists

Guest Author | 07/10/2018 | Art Shows, Arts and Culture, Featured on Home Page

I Came From Far Away, But I Am Here Now

An exhibition of art by immigrant artists living in Oregon.

Exhibit: July 11 - August 24, 2018

Reception: July 19, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Corvallis Art Walk: July 19, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Hours: Tu-Sat, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Admission: Free

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.

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 a 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 findings one's 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 new surroundings or even “seemingly seamless” integration. Each artist comments on very personal experiences and ways of communicating that through art.

There is a genuine feel of promise when Jose de Jesús González Campos, from Mexico, states, “I have found material well-being, comfort and safety,” and after that developed an interest 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, saying, “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, or out of a 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.”

Artists participating in I Came From Far Away, But I Am Here Now 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), and George Wilson (Scotland).

The Arts Center, a community organization, fosters creativity and engagement with the arts among people of Corvallis 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 the open dialogue and creative connections that occur in our public programs. We believe an exhibit about immigration fits our mission well.

For more information, contact Hester Coucke, the Arts Center curator, by email or by calling 541-754-1551, ext. 658.

Article by the Arts Center. The Arts Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our weekly email newsletter.

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