October 31, 2014

Immigrants: Reinventing América

A Multicultural Celebration

Participating artists with Associate Dean Chris Whann and Mentor Raul Manzano

Participating artists at the opening of "Immigrants: Reinventing America" on Oct.8 at the college's Livingston Gallery, with Assistant Dean Christopher Whann and Mentor Raul Manzano.

(BROOKLYN, N.Y., Oct. 31, 2014) Empire State College presents “Immigrants: Reinventing América,” a multimedia exhibit showcasing the work of current students and alumni sharing their views, contributions and experiences in the making of a new América.

Raúl Manzano, college faculty mentor and gallery coordinator, is the curator of the exhibition, which  is on display at the Livingston Gallery, sixth floor, 177 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, through Dec. 18, noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Admission is free.

Paula Hewitt Amram is a storytelling artist. Her drawings deal with the migration of people, food and animals, the rights of boys and girls and the relationship between humans and nature. Such constant interactions nurture her creativity and the world as she sees it.

Self-taught, Brooklyn-born artist Michelle Laverne Bossier explores abstraction and color to illustrate multifaceted aspects of her community.

Street photographer Chris John Bowman is fascinated with the many cultures in his neighborhood known as “Little Pakistan,” where he finds comfort and feels welcome to learn how cultures live side by side, particularly during a time of often-controversial gentrification and worldwide societal conflict.

Venezuelan multimedia and installation artist Patricia Cazorla Sifuentes depicts the hard labor children of immigrants are exposed to, and exploited by, by unscrupulous corporations. She aims to raise awareness about inhumane working conditions in farms and unfair trades. 

Filomena McEwan, a first-generation Italian, portrays a personal narrative of her family’s journey and contribution to America in a collage mosaic. She came to America when she was four years old, sailing from Naples, Italy. She depicts her first impressions of her new home, New York, and takes great pride in her great-uncle’s work as a sandhog during the construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, now known as the Hugh L. Cary Tunnel.

Javier Medina, too, is a socially concerned artist. His work moved from the underground artistic world of Manhattan’s West Village and the Lower East Side, designing flyers and covers for unknown artists and promoters, to satirizing the social fabric of modern capitalist America. From graphite style to expressionistic representations, he conveys the world of "the other."

“America is not a melting pot. It is a multicolored mosaic with sharp lines of distinction that serve as a catalyst for co-existence among its masses,” says self-taught Mexican descendant artist Gabriel Rivera. In his mixed-media painting, he portrays the many faces of the New World.

Brazilian artist Claudia Rocha-van Holt calls herself “an accidental artist,” who loves old dusty books and ancient things. She takes nothing for granted and every story she hears becomes part of her creativity. As a mixed-media artist, she creates nonlinear dynamic compositions, where color and contrast juxtapose to unveil images, or an imaginary landscape.

Stephan van Holt, also a street photographer, focuses on social realities. For him, there is more than black and white, but rather many shades of gray, each with its one current, which can draw a person in to do good or evil, if one allows it to happen.

Manzano, a Colombian immigrant  and an ESC alumnus, has been with the faculty since 2006. For him, “This multicultural coalition of students, mentors and artists is an example of the school’s commitment to diversity. The United States has been built and rebuilt, shaped and reshaped by immigrants for a new América. When you facilitate a place for people to live, share and learn about each other’s differences and similarities, you open your heart and mind to greater understanding of humanity contributing to building kinder societies.”

The college again participated in the ninth annual Latin American Cultural Week in New York City by working with arts institutions promoting and enriching the arts and bringing together the community. The week is a festival that showcases music, dance, visual arts, theater, film, literature and auctions throughout the New York City area. The LACW is a program of Pan American Musical Art Research, founded and directed by Uruguayan pianist Polly Ferman. This year, PAMAR is celebrating its 30th anniversary. For more information about Ferman, visit www.pamar.org or www.pollyferman.net.

Directions: 2,3 trains to Hoyt Street or A,C,G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets

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