Collaboration of artists and community groups will hold more than 70 events on migration across the state

Maine is set to become one of America’s most outspoken voices on immigration this month as a collaboration between artists and community groups launches a statewide initiative to change the conversation about migration. Often thought to be one of the least diverse states in the nation, Maine is actually home to immigrants from Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Republics, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and other countries throughout the world.

“I am optimistic that this unprecedented grassroots initiative will ignite a critically needed statewide dialogue on immigration,” said Laura Freid, President, Maine College of Art (MECA), whose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is spearheading the Maine effort. “We hope this collaboration serves as a national model for how to bring a fresh perspective on migration to communities across our country.”

Over the next three months, more than 70 independent art exhibits, film screenings, poetry readings, lectures, and panel discussions, among other activities, will take place across Maine. (See a full list of events here.) Events include Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways, an exhibition at ICA at MECA in Portland, Maine. Running October 5–December 14, 2018 the show will present works by diverse artists, many of whom have personal migration experiences. Additional initiative activities include:

  • ICA at MECA (Portland) – November 2nd Symposium on Art and Politics;
  • Museum LA (Lewiston) – hosting six film screenings accompanied by panel discussions;
  • Frontier Theater and Cafe (Brunswick) – hosting a screening with food pairing;
  • Capital Area New Mainers Project (Augusta) – hosting community dinners;
  • Portland Stage (Portland) – where Refuge*Malja will be presented, accompanied by a host of post-performance discussions;
  • Center for Maine Contemporary Art (Rockland) – hosting a virtual reality pop up of Daniel Quintanilla/UnitedYES/Yarn Corporation;
  • The Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP)/ACLU-Maine (Portland), participating in a panel on current political context of migration policy.

ICA at MECA: Advancing discussion on society’s critical issues

“As an institution of contemporary art, the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art’s role is to advance discussion on issues that are critical to contemporary society,” said Erin Hutton, Director of Exhibitions and Special Projects at MECA. “Public engagement is essential to our mission.”

Organized by Hutton, Making Migration Visible co-curators are Julie Poitras Santos, artist, writer and Assistant Professor in the MFA program at MECA, and Catherine Besteman, Professor of Anthropology at Colby College, who has conducted extensive fieldwork in South Africa and Somalia and is author of Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine.

Making Migration Visible artists include:

  • Jason De León, an archaeologist working with photographer Michael Wells to recover, document, and archive objects left behind by migrants in the Sonoran desert;
  • Mohamad Hafez, who focuses his work on instruments of mobility for Syrian refugees, such as life-rafts and suitcases;
  • María Patricia Tinajero and Edwige Charlot, artists who draw on botanical references, soil and water to explore conceptions of rootedness and heritage;
  • Daniel Quintanilla/United YES/Yarn Corporation, a collaboration making virtual reality films about immigrant life in Maine;
  • Other artists include: Ahmed Alsoudani, Caroline Bergvall, Eric Gottesman, Romuald Hazoumè, Ranu Mukherjee, and Yu-Wen Wu. (See artists’ bios here.)

Image credit: Eric Gottesman, Tourist Police, 2013
For Immediate Release | contact: Sue McGovern, 781.315.3400, smcgovern@meca.edu

About Maine College of Art (MECA)
Founded in 1882, Maine College of Art is located in the heart of downtown Portland’s thriving Arts District. MECA offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 11 studio majors (including Animation & Game Art), Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art, Master of Arts in Teaching, Pre-College, and Continuing Studies. Institutes at MECA include the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, which offers a graduate certificate, and the Institute for Contemporary Art, which is open free to the public Wednesday–Sunday, 11am–5pm, Thursday, 11am–7pm, Friday, 11–5pm, and First Friday Art Walk until 8pm

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.