Crossroads Art Center wants to remind us that at one point in time, we were all immigrants.
This Friday, the gallery will host an open house for “Where We Come From: Honoring Our Immigrant Ancestors,” which will feature work from several of their 225 represented artists, as well as many individual exhibits in connection with the main project.
“It’s important right now because the issue in the news of immigration,” said Jenni Kirby, director, and owner of Crossroads Art Center. “We literally all are immigrants into this country. Immigrants actually help to build this country and help change this country.”
The exhibit will be an all-media show, inviting artists to use whatever medium is most relevant to their ancestors and the artists of their pasts. Woodwork, jewelry, pottery, and paintings are all accepted into the show. The artist reception includes exhibitions by the Tuckahoe Artists Association, Sandra Nardone, and Linda Hollett-Bazouzi.
“I am not just a product of my immigrant ancestors, but also defining moments of my life,” Hollett-Bazouzi said. “I think it’s very important to honor and recognize our cultural backgrounds, but I think we need to remember that there’s so much more than just that.”
Using the concept that humans are a product of nature versus nurture, Hollett-Bazouzi’s work expands on “Where We Come From” by creating art that represents the important moments in her life that have defined who she is, rather than simply being defined by who her ancestors were. Through her exhibit, titled “Where We Come From: Defining Moments,” she wants to acknowledge that background doesn’t determine your destiny.
“We are so much more than our genes, our heritage,” Hollett-Bazouzi said. “We are also all those moments, events, and people that make a mark on our lives.”
Artist Sandra Nardone will also present her own accompanying exhibit, titled “Ellis Island: Faces of America,” (main image) focusing on the history of immigration and Ellis Island. Partially the inspiration for the all-media show, Nardone’s exhibit accompanies her new book featuring her work, original photographs from Ellis Island and a brief history, which will be available for signing at the exhibit opening. Other artists in the all-media show will present work representing multiple backgrounds and heritage, such as Native American, Greek, Polish and South American ancestry.
“I’m hoping that it will spur conversation about it as opposed to just hate speech,” Kirby said. “I hope it’s a conversation that can start between people with opposite minds and begin that as a conversation as opposed to a shouting match about it.”
In addition to the open house exhibit opening, artists will bring a variety of dishes that represent their heritage for the public to sample. The food could be anything from a well-known traditional dish to an old family recipe from the artists’ ancestors.
“Where We Come From: Honoring Our Immigrant Ancestors” opens this Fri., Jan. 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Crossroads Art Center. The exhibit will run until March 4.