Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways

Migration, mobility, and displacement is the story of our era. Fears about human mobility and border crossers are reshaping politics; climate change promises to cause massive displacements; global leaders are scrambling to reconfigure and secure borders; people everywhere are moving to find safe lives for their families. The artists in Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways challenge the idea that migration is an exception or a crisis, showing viewers that migration is now the norm, inscribed in our landscapes, memories, bodies, and imaginings. What kind of a world do we want to create in this era of great mobility?

In addition to the ICA exhibition, Making Migration Visible is a state-wide initiative featuring events by dozens of partnering organizations offering parallel exhibitions, film screenings, performances, lectures, community dinners, poetry, and more. To download a printable version of the exhibition affiliated events calendar, click here.

The initiative also includes a day-long symposium, ART+POLITICS, on November 2nd that is open to the public.  

This exhibition is organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design and co-curated by guest curators Julie Poitras Santos and Catherine Besteman.

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On view: October 5 – December 14, 2018
Exhibition Opening: Friday, October 5, 2018, 5:00–8:00pm
Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design
ICA Gallery hours: Wed–Sun, 11:00am–5:00pm, Thurs, 11:00am–7:00pm, Friday, 11:00am–5:00pm, (FFAW until 8:00pm)

Read: See migration, its 'traces, tracks and pathways,' at MECA&D' -- Portland Press Herald Read: 'In Maine, looking at art and immigration' -- The Boston Globe Read: 'A Different Migration Story' — Portland Press Herald

This groundbreaking exhibition and its many components would not have been possible without the gracious contributions of multiple organizations and individual donors. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by a Lunder Foundation Challenge Grant, the Maine Arts Commission (an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts), Colby College, Coffee By Design, Alison D. Hildreth '76 Hon. DFA ’17, Candace Pilk Karu Hon. DFA ’13, Jeremy Moser and Laura Kittle, and valuable support from an anonymous donor.



About the Exhibition

Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways brings together a dynamic group of contemporary artists whose work engages the theme of migration. Organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design, this exhibition will be accompanied by a wide range of events about migration, immigration, and border crossing hosted by collaborating partner organizations throughout the state. Events include companion exhibitions, lectures, films, performances, poetry readings, and community conversations. MECA&D will host a one-day public symposium for artist and collaborating partners on Friday, November 2, 2018. A detailed schedule and more information on each of the affiliated events will be available in September at

“Artists have always played a central and critical role in helping us to understand the emotions - pride, longing, melancholy, displacement, fear - that are so much a part of the immigration experience,” said MECA&D President Laura Freid. “In these times of war and distress, when so many are faced with displacement, exile, and the significant existential pressures of immigration, it is critical for all of us to try to understand and reach out to each other. I am hopeful that this ICA exhibition will help us to start healthy, open, and engaged dialogues in our community.”

The exhibition is organized by Director of Exhibitions and Special Projects, Erin Hutton and co-curated by Julie Poitras Santos and Catherine Besteman. Poitras Santos is an artist, writer and Assistant Professor in the MFA program at MECA&D. The relationship between site, story and mobility fuels a wide range of Poitras Santos’ research and production, often as a means to create community. Besteman is Professor of Anthropology at Colby College who has conducted extensive fieldwork in South Africa, Somalia, and the United States. Besteman recently published a book that examines the experiences of Maine’s largest refugee population.

In light of vigorous local and national dialogues about immigration, Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways seeks to make connections among local communities and to illuminate the experiences and materialities of displacement, exile, and mobility. Through its focus on pathways linking memory, movement, the loss of home, and the invention of a new one, the exhibition opens an inclusive critique of stereotypes about migrants and migration. The works enable viewers and participants to interrogate how structural inequalities and inequities influence our daily interactions and experiences of mobility.

Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways will be on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art & Design from October 5 through December 14, 2018. The opening will take place on Friday, October 5, 2018, and a one-day symposium will be held on Friday, November 2, 2018. A number of additional programs including film screenings, community dialogues, artist talks, and exhibitions will take place at different venues throughout Maine while the exhibition is on view.

Participating artists include: Ahmed Alsoudani ‘05, Caroline Bergvall, Edwige Charlot ‘10, Jason De León + Michael Wells + Lucy Cahill, Eric Gottesman, Mohamad Hafez, Romuald Hazoumè, Ranu Mukherjee, Daniel Quintanilla + United YES + Yarn Corporation, María Patricia Tinajero, and Yu-Wen Wu.

This exhibition is made possible in part thanks to the support of private donors, Colby College, the Lunder Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, to request high-resolution images, or to schedule an interview with exhibition co-curators Julie Poitras Santos or Catherine Besteman, please contact Erin Hutton ( / 207.699.5025).