February 21, 2012
“Our Voices, Our Stories, Nuestras Voces, Nuestras Historias,” a new traveling exhibition documenting the lives of immigrants and their journeys to and within Western North Carolina, will take up residence at UNC Asheville’s Highsmith University Union Gallery during the month of March. The exhibit includes art in different and mixed media, and the voices of immigrants interviewed about their lives and experiences.
“Our Voices, Our Stories” opens with a reception, from 7- 9 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at the gallery. That evening will include creation of an interactive multi-media piece involving the artists and gallery-goers. The reception and the exhibition are free and open to the public.
“As artists, we hope to create dialogue, and include the voices of those living in the shadows,” said Victor Palomino, curator of the exhibition. “We want to convey the moments of resilience and celebration, as well as episodes of discrimination and fear experienced in a diverse range of ways.”
The exhibition grew out of a community-based human rights initiative called Raising Our Voices: The 100 Stories Project, which began shortly after the 2009 raid on the Mills Manufacturing plant where 59 immigrant employees were detained. “Collecting the stories of the people affected by that raid, by the recent raid at Shogun restaurant, and so many other incidents in between, brings to life the fear and isolation of immigrants in our communities,” said Carolina McCready of the Latino Advocacy Coalition, one of the project organizers.
“This exhibit will make those interviews come alive through art and experience,” said Miriam Arias, organizer for the WNC Workers Center. “We believe we will reach more hearts by helping visitors visually understand the realities of immigrants here in the mountains.”
“Our Voices, Our Stories,” includes works by artists from many backgrounds. Among those featured are Columbian visual artist Sandra Garcia; Romanian painter Adrianna Vasiut; local visual artist and teacher Kenna Sommer; Texas native Chris Corral, a painter of Mexican descent; and Martha Skinner, a Columbian educator and designer of performance installations involving collective participation.
The exhibition is supported by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council and is co-sponsored by COLA (Coalition of Latin American Organizations), Latino Advocacy Coalition, Center for Participatory Change, WNC Workers Center, Nuestro Centro, UNC Asheville and its Center for Diversity Education.
Viewing hours for “Our Voices, Our Stories” at Highsmith University Union Gallery are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 12-6 p.m. on Sundays, through March 31. For more information, contact Tracie Pouliot at 828/251-6991or visit the gallery website.