March 23, 2011

ARRIVALS/DEPARTURES is a multimedia art exhibit portraying a side of the immigrant experience often neglected in favor of political and economic discussion and ideology: the human one. Set against the backdrop of a fervent national immigration debate -- with copycat SB 1070 legislation being proposed in several states, the Senate's failure to pass the DREAM Act this past December, and misinformed anti-immigrant rhetoric being spread like wildfire -- exhibits like this are crucial in reminding us to take pause and check our privilege in light of the struggles of others.

Taking place in concert with Women's History Month and featuring the work of fourteen female artists, the exhibit tells the stories of the artists' experiences with migration, both forced and voluntary.

Several of the featured artists were in attendance for the media preview, and I was fortunate to meet Mona Lunot, former chairperson of DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association. Her painting titled "Maleta" features a Filipina woman emerging from a Philippine flag draping the streets of New York, while her peers remain caged by political killings, torture, and harassment. DJ Lucha of Besos Not Bombs was also available to talk about her installation of black and white photographs from her journeys around the world, some of which were over ten years old. She explained that much of her work is rooted in her community building efforts in the various cities that she calls home, where she engages youth in art projects to create positive change.

Other notable pieces include an offset print by Favianna Rodriguez titled "Undocumented, Unafraid," illustrating an undocumented DREAMer at a march in Arizona protesting the state's anti-immigrant SB 1070; a series of four paintings by Ann Kwak documenting her journey across the US; and Joanne Ludwig's watercolor diptych depicting her family's roots in Thailand and her own experience as a biracial second generation immigrant in the US.

ARRIVALS/DEPARTURES is produced by the Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism, Re-feudalization, and Marginalization (AF3IRM) New York/New Jersey and co-hosted by the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. Born out of the Gabriela Network (GABNet), AF3IRM is a national organization of women engaged in transnational feminist, anti-imperialist activism.

ARRIVALS/DEPARTURES is open for viewing Mondays through Fridays through March 31 from 1-5 pm at Project Reach, 39 Eldridge Street, New York, NY.