IMMIGRANTS: Reinventing América a big hit in Brooklyn
By Betty Wilde-Biasiny,mentor, and Raul Manzano, mentor, SUNY Empire State College
January 16, 2015
"With pride and grace, current students and alumni, enlightened the Livingston Gallery of the Metropolitan Center, Brooklyn Unit with the multimedia art exhibition IMMIGRANTS: Reinventing América," reports Raul Manzano, faculty mentor and curator of the exhibition. The opening reception hosted more than 150 visitors who enjoyed an evening of art, ethnic foods, and a social and cultural event. "The selected artists for the show included artists from Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States adding to the cultural and contextual richness of the presentation as a whole, bringing together voices of people from different corners of the world.
Each exhibiting student had a chance to speak publicly on his/her individual perspective on what the immigrant experience meant to them, either first hand or from observation. From colorful photographs of a gentrifying neighborhood to delicate pencil sketches of immigrant child laborers, students had a chance to prepare their work for professional exhibition, work with a curator on the aspects of presentation, and write a personal artist's statement.
Empire State College president Merodie A. Hancock remarked, “This wonderful exhibition is one way that Empire State College is participating in the dialogue around our changing national demographics. This nation was built upon waves of immigrants, who brought their talents, hard work and perseverance to contribute to the growth and vitality of this country. As our country engages in debate about immigration, it is helpful to stop and consider what wonderful contributions immigrants have made, and are still making, to our common culture. We are pleased to partner with PAMAR for another year to highlight these contributions and stories, and educate our surrounding community. We invite everyone to stop by.”
"I was so pleased to have so much support for the art opening at Livingston Gallery. As an individual who has also experienced being an immigrant, it was meaningful for me to share my own memories with students, as well as to support their work as future artists," states Manzano.
Raul Manzano, at right, is currently a candidate for the Ph.D. at Union Institute and University. "This is both inspiring for students and a testimony to his progress after completing his MALS '2005, at Empire State College," commented associate professor Betty Wilde-Biasiny, one of Manzano's former mentors in the program. Manzano continues, "All of the staff, faculty and guests who helped make this event a success both reinforced and honored the students who participated in the exhibition. And special thanks goes to the office of Dean Cynthia Ward, the Office of Alumni Affairs, the Office of Communications, and the individuals behind the scenes whose ongoing support of our student affairs funded projects are both encouraged and advertised."
Our ongoing partnership with Pan American Musical Art Research, Inc. (PAMAR) over the past five years has helped make this event during Hispanic Heritage month a go to venue. As well, the president of the student club, Minority Students in Action, Layla Abdullah-Poulos was thrilled to have the opportunity for members of that group both in the show and in attendance at the event. We also had an inquiry from Legal Defenders law firm about having students show their work in the lobby on the 7th floor of the Livingston Street location.