I am really excited to be able to share with everyone the final selected images for our 3rd annual curated photography exhibit, Our Diversity is Our Strength! Never has it felt more important to share photographs and stories of people who have come to this country for the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families and who have given so much to our country and communities.
With the increasing hate speech we are experiencing, often against immigrants, and which dehumanizes entire groups of people, we are grateful to get to share these stories as an antidote. When we allow ourselves to stop and really see each other, to be willing to hear someone’s story, to see our common humanity, we understand we are not so different. It opens the door to mutual understanding and empathy.
We must find a way to first, always see the humanity in each other. It is the only way we will start to heal the deep wounds and divisions in this country.
All of the 37 selected prints can be seen now at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Some images will be up on the community wall through February 27th, and all of the images will be available in the gallery’s community viewing drawings through December 2021. Blue Sky Gallery visits are by appointment only right now, please check here for availability, calendly.com/blueskyappointments/visit. We will also be sharing all of the images on our IG account, Our Diversity is Our Strength.
- Rediet is originally from Ethiopia. She moved to the United States with her family when she was very young. Her first language is Amharic. The text on this image says, “I am an immigrant.”
- Heading for America 1952. , l Leaving a displaced persons’ camp in Hanover, Germany, Esther, father Max and brother Ben depart from the train station. In the early 1950s the family left Poland illegally, traveling over-land to Israel with a paid guide. Traumatized by the fighting in Israel, Max and family headed back to Germany, again traveling illegally. In Germanywe lived in a displaced- persons camp until the U.S. immigration barrier for Jewish refugees was lifted in 1952 . Heading for America from Germany, final destination Portland ,Oregon.
- A vineyard worker takes a break during grape harvest in Dundee, Oregon. Almost 100% of the farm working population in Oregon’s wine industry is from Mexico
Given the challenges from the pandemic in having our usual large format exhibit and opening event at Pro Photo Supply we also created these two videos, a slideshow/virtual exhibit, and a video conversation with several of our participating photographers.
Slideshow of the 3rd annual “Our Diversity is our Strength” photography exhibit
I really wanted to delve a little deeper with some of our contributing photographers, both those who are professional artists and those who submitted family photos, to have them share why these images and being a part of this project was so important to them. I hope you enjoy their interviews as much as I did. It was incredibly moving and impactful for me to get to hear their stories firsthand and be able to connect with them in this way, especially at a time where we are unable to gather and talk in person.
I couldn’t have done this project with my amazing partners including the following members of the Portland photography and arts community. With special thanks also to my co-curator, the very talented Jim Lommasson and to Lori Carruthers and the team at Pro Photo Supply who do so much to support projects in our community.
- Martin Gomez was born and raised in the Yucatan, and as the eldest of five children, felt a strong desire to provide more for his family.
He was 20 years old when he came to the U.S. in 2001, to Portland, Oregon because he had an uncle who lived there. Martin struggled because he spoke no English and was uncomfortable with his lack of cultural knowledge.
Martin began studying English at Portland Community College and got a job as a dishwasher, working his way up to prep-cook and in 2003 he was given the opportunity to become at line cook at the newly opened Mingo restaurant.
He spent many long days and nights learning how to become a chef, often on his own without pay and in 2005 he advanced to Sous Chef and began to feel a sense of purpose and vision for a path toward realizing his dream. Then, In 2008 Martin was named the Head Chef at Mingo Restaurant in Beaverton and says he gets a lot of joy from sharing his food with people and from travelling and continuing to learn about different cultures and cuisines.
- Immigrants throughout history have been silenced for being different. Have been killed because of others having a skewed understanding of them. We as immigrants try to use our voices to educate but have a hard time communicating facts and reasons.
- Pidyon haBen is an ancient Jewish ceremony. This male child, Jonah Wald, is the first natural issue of his mother’s womb. When he was thirty days old he was redeemed through the transfer of silver coins from his father, Daniel, to a descendant of the priests of old.