The Westmoreland’s exhibition—one of a series of exhibitions, events and conversations in the region—began as a project of The Documentary Works, a group of professional photographers documenting social and environmental issues. Community partners include the American Jewish Museum, City of Asylum, Repair the World and the Union Project.
“The power of groups like The Documentary Works is that they can approach complex topics from multiple perspectives,” said co-curator Laura Domencic. “This project reveals the vulnerable and celebratory moments of individuals and families making a new home in an unfamiliar place.”
Domencic and co-curator Brian Cohen sought to add to the conversation around emigration (leaving one’s homeland), immigration (coming to a new country) and migration (the process of moving), and how each one makes this country what it is.
“This project is based on the simple premise that we have all come from somewhere, whether in our own lifetimes or that of our ancestors. Our aim is to open up a friendly space within which we can all have a conversation about American migration stories,” said Cohen, who, in addition to serving as co-curator, has his photography featured in the exhibition.
“We have had our eyes on the work of these excellent photographers, who work as a group on selected themes, for several years,” said The Richard M. Scaife Director/CEO Judith H. O’Toole. “This topic seemed very timely and in line with one of our strategic goals of uniting the human experience by being responsive to current issues and supporting diversity in its many forms.”
The exhibition catalog features essays by two Public Radio journalists. Erika Beras presents interviews with African American Pittsburgh residents who found their way to the city during the Great Migration over fifty years ago, providing a look into growing up in the segregated South, and the changes they experienced in moving north. Reid Frazier’s essay uses an historical context to reveal the hopes, dreams, and challenges of immigrants in a new country where their welcome is tempered by the fears and prejudices they encounter.
Funding for this project has been generously provided by The Fisher Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation; Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation; Hillman Foundation; The Heinz Endowments; Opportunity Fund; and The Pittsburgh Foundation. At The Westmoreland, funding has been generously provided by the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Tell Us Your Immigration Story is made possible by the generous support of The Fine Foundation.