America, known as the “land of opportunities”, is often a destination for those in need of a new home. Some need it more than others but not everyone has a choice. While immigrants are individuals who choose to live permanently in a foreign country, refugees are forced to leave their land to escape war and persecution.
In the exhibition, By Force & By Choice, I turn my lens and my ear to focus on immigrants and refugees. These photographic portraits let you see a glimpse of the individuals who live in urban areas of Cleveland. Barriers such as language can make integrating into the community difficult but not impossible. Thanks to dedicated organizations, individuals can receive vital education and job training that help them adjust to their new lives in the United States.
This work was created in the effort to educate my own ignorance on this very important topic. I began reaching out to local organizations and Cuyahoga County residents to retrieve more information and connect with immigrants and refugees who have moved to and been resettled in Cleveland, Ohio. The color portraits that take form of inkjet prints are an ongoing response to the idea of identity. By using photography, I can partake in a collaborative engagement that allows me to interact with others. Here I show you some of the beautiful faces I had the pleasure of meeting.
I present to you my latest work By Force & By Choice and I invite all to experience this learning process with me. As you walk through the space I encourage you to listen as the sounds of the airport that fills the room. The journey is what they all have in common.