One House Gallery
I am a conceptual artist, I work in the medium of performance art. This performance documented in photograph. As an Arab Muslim woman from Dubai, who has been judged, who examines the suffering and challenges that differ from the experience of men. In this work I speak about the consumers of Western media, Muslim are constantly exposed to narratives that link terrorism to Islam. I aim to express the conflict between the individual and society. I am troubled by how I am being seen as an artist, female, Arab, Muslim and person of color in American society. Which is in conflict with how I want to be seen.
I am a refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina. These are all my belongings that I brought with me from my previous life.
My panel focuses on my Swiss heritage, specifically my paternal great grandfather. Traveling from Switzerland to France and then New York in his youth, he supported his family as a carpenter and progressed to become a prominent citrus rancher in Southern California. Today his descendants are spread across the entire United States, making noteworthy contributions in the fields of agriculture, teaching, medicine, science, architecture, music and the arts. They continue in the Swiss traditions of freedom, liberalism and tolerance while embracing the values of perfection, punctuality, precision, and thriftiness.
I am an immigrant and feel grateful to be an American citizen. I want others to have the opportunity to live and work here without unnecessary barriers.
Simon Lachman, my dad's mom's dad, immigrated in 1911 from Poland, and then brought his and his wife's entire family over. He was a sweet, giving, smart man who was strong as the yoke holding the oxen in the shtetl. Once in Queens, he worked as a tailor and carpenter, eventually owned apartment buildings, lost everything in the crash, and then built up again, moving to Miami Beach and buying different properties, including a hotel on South Beach that my grandparents operated. Toward the end of his life, he started experimenting with broken glass and tiles, and created beautiful art that will survive as long as his ancestors.
My panel portrays my mother's mother's passport photo in prep for her journey in 1939 to the United States from Cuba, where her family had been living for about 10 years. She is Lebanese, but Lebanon was occupied by the French at that time so the passport is all in French and her name is spelled 3 different ways in that single passport alone. She was also 30 at the time, which was rather old for a woman to be single in that day and age. She and her sisters all had arranged marriages within that same year and all moved to the states. Her parents and brother were trapped in Cuba after Castro took over and their only communication after that was through letters. The digital corruption in the photo is my name inserted over and over into the photo's code. By going back and trying to piece together the story of my grandmother who I loved as a child but am even more fascinated with as an adult, I am thinking of the right questions to ask now that it is too late to find answers. My husband can trace his family tree back to before the United States was the United States, but I can't go back much farther than her. So a broken image seemed appropriate here. Also to note: she spoke very poor English, but it was her 4th language after Arabic, French, and Spanish. A lot of people in this political climate would have judged her as not worthy to be here based on her heritage and accent, which makes me sad. But she eventually became a citizen, voted in every election, made the best Syrian bread ever, and loved professional wrestling. And now I am here. THIS is America!
Sondra N. Arkin
My great grandfather was a Russian Cossack. When he left during the Revolution/the murder of the Czar's, he immigrated to Boston. My mother says he was a Great Russian Bear who never spoke in English, and when he did, you listened. He worked for the Railroad, laying tracks and then managing a station.
My panel is about my mother Claire Lessard Banks who immigrated to the US from Canada in 1962 when she married my dad. I included her father Eugene Lessard on the panel - he was a forestry engineer whose work took the family to various heavily wooded spots around Canada.
Isaac Davis was my maternal grandfather. Born in Russia, he escaped the czar's army and pogroms, emigrating to the United States in the 1890's. Together with his wife Sophia Goldstein Davis, they had 9 children born in the US, 7 girls and 2 boys. Most were raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where I grew up. Isaac was a chicken farmer in Russia and a tailor in St. Louis. He made all the clothes for his children, from complex to simple. He made the cloak-like garments seen here on the panel. The smallest child is my mother Edna. Isaac appears to have had some Mongolian, Siberian, or an Asian/Russian mix of ancestry. His siblings or cousins and a couple of his grandchildren had similar eyes and facial structure. I never knew my grandfather. He had such a kind face - I wish I had known him. Isaac Davis died in St. Louis Missouri at age 67.
My family is from Jamaica, WI... This piece is about my maternal grandmother Jones and her recipes... and what she learned at home with her own mother, Granny Hannah, and what she heard and learned up in the Big House with her paternal grandmother; and how she immigrated to NY in the early years of the 20th c. and made a life in the States. It was impossible to NOT notice how proud she was of being West Indian, and even her colonial past/present, despite all the contradictions and peculiarities it held for her. I watched and came to appreciate what I thought of as her quiet, private ways of rebelliousness and asserting herself—these she would even sometimes confirm to me! Even as early on they had frustrated and exasperated me, with the years, I have come to understand her much more fully...
Isidor Isaac Rabi b. Rymanow, Galicia (Austro-Hungarian Empire – now Poland) arr. New York 1899 d. 1988
My grandfather came to the US as a baby. He grew up and spent most of his life in New York City, but lived elsewhere off and on, including various locations in Europe and Cambridge, MA, in the US. He lived with my grandmother in the same apartment near Columbia University on the Upper West Side of New York for over 40 years, until the end of his life in 1988.
He basically abandoned his Orthodox Jewish heritage in favor of science as his God, but then requested an Orthodox burial, so you never know what people believe at any given time.
He was a somewhat distant grandfather, rarely talking about personal matters – he seemed far more interested in world events. But one occasionally got glimpses of his sense of humor and he and my grandmother had many friends and threw great parties.
He was a physicist, teaching at Columbia University and working with magnetic resonance. His work led to the development of the CAT scan and he helped develop the atom bomb at Los Alamos. He also defended Oppenheimer during his security clearance trial, and yet was never called before a panel himself, even though he had been a card-carrying Marxist in his youth. These are some of the complexities of his life.
The images on the panel are icons of my memories of him: The central drawing is the functional diagram for his original magnetic resonance experiment.
A martini glass – My brother and I used to serve hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at parties at their apartment; martinis were abundant.
His glasses – He was never without them.
A mushroom cloud – He worked with Robert Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, NM, (but refused to live there during the project) and famously defended Oppenheimer during his security hearing in 1952. He sat on the first Atomic Energy Commission General Advisory Commission starting in 1946, recommending against the development of the hydrogen bomb, and was Science Advisor to President Eisenhower. He was involved in the founding of both Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US and CERN in Switzerland.
A comb – Always in his jacket pocket: He used to wrap the cellophane from cigarette packs over it and hum “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” through it like a kazoo.
A vest – He always wore a suit and rarely without a vest.
LiCl – Lithium chloride: one of the compounds he used in the experiment that led to the creation of the molecular-beam magnetic-resonance detection method that earned him a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1944. NMR
– Nucleomagnetic resonance, the theory that led to magnetic resonance imaging (the CAT scan).
Kimberly M. Benavides
A reflection on my father's migration from war-torn El Salvador.
The panel is a brief summary in photographs of the contribution of my mother, an immigrant and scientist as well as a feminist, wife and mother. My panel honors my mother, who arrived here in 1942 as young teenager and went on to earn a doctorate, marry and raise two children while doing research and teaching. She is considered a role model for women in science.
My panel shows a young woman "Tina La Bazookera" who was a revolutionary during the Dominican resistance when the US invaded the Dominican Republic in April 1965. Tina was only sixteen, and while she was not trained as a soldier, she earned the nickname "la bazookera" because she was a skillful shooter. Tina was one of the Women of April, the thousands of courageous women who fought the US invasion in 1965 in the struggle for self-determination for all Dominicans. Tina lived in Ciudad Nueva, and my family also lived in Ciudad Nueva in a house with a sunny courtyard and a parrot named Cuca. I was ten months old when the 42,000 marines ordered by LBJ arrived. When Ciudad Nueva was heavily shelled by the Intrepid, parked just off the malecón, we fled and became refugees then immigrated to New York City along with thousands of Dominicans. I claim these courageous women as ancestors. Tina is shown holding a gun in one hand and a picture of me in another. This small painting commemorates my first communion, one of my earliest memories in America. Written on the wall behind her is "(Feli)z Navidad" to signify light and rebirth, "ciudad nueva" signifying the new community that Dominicans formed across the ocean highway in Nueva York, and "libertad" the most important human right for all people.
My panel represents my family; grandparents from Sicily and Reggio Calabria (the Italian town at the tip of the boot) and their first generation children, my mother, aunt and uncle. Creating the panel brought tears to my eyes because for the first time -- these photos will be viewed outside my home. I cannot put into words how important these family members were in helping create who I am today. I am forever blessed and grateful.
Lucy J. Soffer Blankstein
My Father, Louis J. Soffer
My father, Louis J. Soffer ‘s family came from Lipcani, Moldovo, Pale of the Settlement, Bessarabia. He was born in London and when a few months old, emigrated with his mother Jenny and 12 year old brother Harry to the United States. Samuel, his father had emigrated first and they settled into a coldwater flat in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
I was inspired by an early image of him that captured his handsome face and inquisitive eyes. His mother dressed him à la Little Lord Fauntleroy -one can imagine how that went over in a tough neighborhood! Louis J. (or Lulla as his mother called him) grew up to be a noted internist and an endocrinologist. He devoted his life to his patients and his family. Although not given to many words, he enjoyed being an observer, and always asked penetrating questions. My only regrets are the questions that I never asked. - Lucy Soffer Blankstein
Jo Ann Block
The perception of my personal ancestry stops at my infancy. At four months old I left one family and grew up with another. I met my biological family later on in life as an adult. My art has its roots in exploring the unknowingness of identity. In this panel I go back to the origins of that split.
The panel has little paper airplanes and boats shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic. That is my immigration story going back to 1905 with two failed immigration attempts and now endless shuttling across the Atlantic ocean. My family has been on the move it seems for generations.
Hans Blom, my Norwegian paternal grandfather, came to the US in 1905 (Ellis Island records) as a young engineer. He was 27 and had $28.00 with him. No one knows what he did while he was here or how long he stayed.
Joseph Louis Marie Barrault, my French maternal great-grandfather, came to the US in 1915 (Ellis Island records) at the age of 47 as a railroad agent. He was here to purchase railroad ties for the Louisiana railroads. He was trapped by WWI and was not able to return to his family until after the great war.
Anton Blom/Elizabeth Marie Susanne Barrault, my Norwegian father and French mother, came to the US in 1981 and stayed for four years. My dad came to work as the foreign correspondent for the Norwegian Broadcast System. My mom was born and spent her childhood in Cambodia (French Indochina) and her adolescence in Mali (French colony at that time).
Liliane Marie Blom - I believe in building bridges, in keeping doors open and in the dream of a world without borders. It seems a bit absurd now, it did not when I was growing up...
I was born in Norway, spent six years as a child in Germany and have lived in the US since I finished high school. I fell in love with another immigrant. My two children have four grandparents from four different countries. Norway-France-Costa Rica-Guatemala. I was happy to leave Norway at 18 and come to the US. It was a great adventure. After 30 years I am still not a US citizen. I have been waiting for Norway to pass a law permitting dual citizenship for decades. I would like to be able to vote.
Gabriel Sigurd Cabrera, my son, born in the US, moved to Norway after finishing high school and is now studying physics at the University of Oslo. He has a Swedish fiancé and plans to stay in Norway. He does not like the political system in the US, but loves the food here.
Sophie Solveig Cabrera, my daughter born in the US, spent two years in Norway after high school and now living and studying costume design in Paris. She would love to stay in Paris if that works out.
This panel honors my great grandmother Borghild Husby who came to the United States in 1915 from Norway. She was 15 years old and traveled through Ellis Island to start a new life in a new, exciting, and probably terrifying country.
Dedicated to Antosia Kvaraceus.
My panel is about the journey of my paternal grandmother, Antosia Kvaraceus, from her homeland of Lithuania to the United States . She was born in Vilnius on July 8, 1884. She entered the US through Ellis Island at the end of the 1800s like so many other immigrants. Somehow she ended up in Boston, Massachusetts, where, while working at the Parker House restaurant, she met my grandfather Clement Kvaraceus. They married and moved to Brockton, Mass. They lived in the part of Brockton known as "The Village," referencing the Lithuanian immigrants who had clustered there. Brockton was a shoe factory town. They both worked in the factories. They had four children, three boys and one girl. My father was their youngest child. They were poor. The Catholic Church, hard work, schooling, and a vegetable garden dominated their lives. My grandparents and aunt worked in the shoe factories so the boys could stay in school. In my grandparent’s view, education was the ticket out of poverty. It appears that they were correct. Of their three boys, one became a surgeon, one became a lawyer and my father became a PhD from Harvard. My aunt never had the chance to attend college. That was the way it was in those days. It was thought that girls didn't need higher education because it was assumed that they would get married and be taken care of. What a shame because I remember my father once told me that he believed his sister was the brightest of all of them. My aunt did marry a successful man, but who knows what she herself could have become. We visited my grandparent’s apartment (they were never able to afford a house) almost weekly for my grandmother's potato pancakes (Blinis) or her cabbage soup (Kapusta). My grandmother had the opportunity to return home to Lithuania only once. My grandfather never had the chance. He died of ill health in his fifties. My grandmother passed away in her sleep on December 11, 1974, at the age of 90. It was the end of an era for all of us.
Map of Lithuania c. 2007: www.lithuania-vilnius.com.
My ancester is William Voyles (1741 or 1745 to 1798), one of two Welsh lines on my genealogical tree along with several English, Scottish and possibly Dutch ancestors. He was born probably in Wales. There are some stories that say his father was a Huguenot who escaped from France. In or around 1759, he, his father and three younger brothers went by ship to South Carolina. Jacob, the father, was very poor and didn't have the money for the ship's fare, so he indentured William to the ship's captain for a period of four years as payment. William went back and forth during the next four years of his indenture, staying with his Uncle David whenever he was in Wales. As I understand it, life in indentured service on a ship was arduous and often violent. After the indenture was over, he moved to North Carolina, and some of his brothers followed, though his father stayed in South Carolina. Some stories say that the result of the indenture was estrangement from his father. His Uncle David immigrated to North Carolina at that time, persuaded to do so by William. In 1776 he enlisted in one of the North Carolina units fighting with the Revolutionary forces and re-enlisted in 1779. He fought a number of battles, some with Marion's raiders. Between battles he and all the other soldiers would go home until they were needed again. He was captured by the British at Camden, but managed to escape. In 1787 and again in 1796 he and a brother received land grants for land along the western side of Coldwater Creek in what became Cabarrus County in North Carolina. His short life ended in 1798. He had married an Italian woman, Sarah Hannah Rhodecia Bundi, who died in about 1807. She was making indigo dye and peeled some bark off an ash tree to use as kindling. A bee is supposed to have stung her in the ear while she was peeling the bark and killed her. After William and their mother died, the children struggled with each other, and the land and many eventually moved on to Washington County, Indiana, where most of the family records can be found along with documentation. William Voyles is seven generations back from me through his son David.
Honoring my ancestors from Africa who were enslaved when they arrived in the United States.
Diane Cooper Cabe
My maternal grandparents and great grandparents emigrated from Italy at the beginning of the 20th century to find educational and employment opportunities in America. My panel pays tribute to their courage in leaving all that was familiar behind in Southern Italy to venture into the unknown in order to improve themselves and their children. Their dreams did come true...while my great grandparents were illiterate, their son, my grandfather, earned a law degree in New York in 1929. My panel includes glass and paper elements alluding to their journey.
The subject of my panel died when I was working on it - the image was very dynamic - I had to white it out several times and restart.
My journey to the United States began in Portugal, where I grew up. In 1974 there was a left wing military coup in Portugal. I was at university, studying architecture, when this happened. The university closed for 3 years, as did most universities in the country. I decided to ride out the coup in the United States, where I had friends from when I was an exchange student. I never went back. I ended up finishing my university degree in Washington DC, got married, and had two daughters. A few years ago, I went to work in England, where I was born. My panel shows the three country flags that have had the most impact on my life, and depicts the turbulence that prompted my departure from Portugal.
Robert John Beechinor, my great-grandfather, was born in Ireland in 1844. He came to America when he was a teenager and enlisted in the Union Army. In 1864, he was promoted to captain in command of Co. H, 30th U.S. Colored Infantry. He was severely wounded in a battle at Wilmington, North Carolina. Like many of the Irish immigrants during that time, his first real experience of American life was combat on American soil.
12 x 12 x 1/2 inches
Pencil, ink, spray paint, gesso, museum board, wood
Journey of a pencil
a pencil in labyrinths
wander in betwixt
ups and downs
twists and turns
from T to A
Newly married, my husband and I moved to the US when he started working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Our journey, and our meeting before that, never would have happened, however, if it weren't for our parents taking bigger leaps across oceans to emigrate to Canada.
Starting with my parents' journeys, I thought about the world as they might have seen it, and the representation of it, as found in various world maps for 1971, the year my father emigrated from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) to Canada. I discovered a fascinating project of large embroidered maps, Mappa, by artist Alighiero Boetti. It became a series that reflected geopolitical change - territory disputes, regime changes - hence no two maps are alike. My parents were introduced over Christmas holidays and were married in a matter of weeks, in January 1973, the year my mother emigrated. I've incorporated bits of cancelled passports pages - terms such as "non-immigrant visa," "permitted to land," amongst others. I could have lined these up neatly, but passport stamps appear to carry the transitory energy of airports, it seems, so I used that energy in the lay-out.
There are dotted lines, marking the routes of both my parents from Sri Lanka, and my in-laws, from the Philippines, and India, as well as the routes taken by my husband and me, to Maryland, by way of New Mexico, and New Jersey.
One could almost ascribe personalities to passport stamps and those doing the stamping.
Amidst all these hastily stamped, imperfect "impressions" made in a person's passport, isn't it interesting how suddenly, a stranger in a strange land becomes a "returning resident" - a different life, in a new world?
Deborah Addison Coburn
My panel represents the journey my mother took from pre-WWII Poland to the U.S. Because of the quota on immigrants from Eastern Europe at the time, her family was unable to emigrate to the U.S., but love finally brought her to America.
Before he died, my dad gave me a box of old family photos. Some are labeled, many not. I confess I kind of forgot about the box until I started working on the One House project. It's a treasure trove of images, and I've spent hours marveling at photos of my grandparents as children, and trying to figure out who's who among the orphan pictures. There are a couple of photos of my great-grandfather Julius Gottschalk. In one he is wearing some ceremonial uniform--I imagine it is a fraternal order of some sort. In another he is leaning against the doorframe of his saloon in Brooklyn. This is the one I decided to use in my One House panel.
Julius Gottschalk Wein and Lager Bier. Julius came to the US in 1866 from Germany with his wife Marie, three-year old daughter Helene, and infant son Herman. I don't know when the photo was taken. Julius was born in 1836, so I'm imagining this must have been 1880 or there abouts. I was really charmed by the rakishness of Julius's pose--his splendid mustache and dapper clothes. And the romance of a great-grandfather who owned a Brooklyn saloon.
Family lore has it that Julius, a Jew from Germany, married a Swiss Lutheran countess, Marie von Rammenstein, and they emigrated to the United States to escape family disapproval. Julius was indeed Jewish, but thus far none of us have found any evidence that there were von Rammensteins, just plain Rammensteins. And, when he died, Julius was buried in a Lutheran cemetery in Kings County, NY.
I wonder if, like the musical Hamilton, "In New York you can be a new man"--an American assimilation story. In the new land, Julius became a Christian, and Marie a countess.
My great-great-great-great-great-grandfather (whew) Johannes Dieterich Kober (JDK) emigrated to the New World in 1730, a German lad of 21 years, sailing on the Thistle of Glasgow. He quickly built a life for himself on a farm in Southwest Pennsylvania among his German brethren and was the progenitor of the family now called Cover. His descendants, one of whom (Henry) was incarcerated in Andersonville Prison at the end of Civil War, and subsequently was a survivor of the Sultana, still the biggest maritime disaster in US history, struggled to maintain the fragile foothold JDK established before the birth of the United States. It is a story of resilience in the face of near constant adversity. It is the story of survival when the odds were stacked against them. It is my story.
My ancestor John Cowles came over from England in the early 1600's. His reasons for subjecting himself for 12 - 16 weeks in the hold of a small square rigged ship, with few belongings, heading into an uncertain future, seems to have been primarily freedom from persecution. He was a Congregationalist who believed that both the Church of England and the Catholic Church were corrupt, and that men should be able to congregate, form their own churches, and talk directly with God. I am guessing that he was probably also hoping that he would have the opportunity, with hard work, to better his financial situation. He ended up in what is now Hartford, Connecticut, which was so far from England or even from the Massachusetts Bay Colony that this group of religious men became both the religious and the governmental leaders of their community.
Lea Craigie-Marshall's panel entitled "Brilliant Suffragette" represents her Scottish relative Mary E. Craigie. Mary, who worked tirelessly on the National American Woman Suffrage Association's Special Committee on Church Work, was charged with earning the votes of clergymen around the country. She worked directly with Women's Suffrage leaders and helped secure the women's rights to vote. Especially in today's abysmal political and social environment, Lea was thrilled to discover such a strong, inspiring woman to have as the subject of her panel.
Title: Matriarchal Beginnings. Based on my mother's family history compiled by my uncle for the 1983 Family Reunion held in Avon, Virginia
Richard L. Dana
My uncle Hussein Ata Musleh (standing in the middle during his first visit back to Ramallah/Palestine, between my grandparents) immigrated to the US in 1952 - right after the 1948 war when he was driven out, at the age of 17, from his hometown birthplace Dir Tariff, Palestine (Al-Lud suburbs). Uncle Hussein found home here in the US. He studied geology sciences with a concentration in earth layers. He then worked with many US and international oil exploration companies. Uncle Hussein passed away in Bethesda, Maryland, in 2006 at age 85. The US is a better place because of uncle Hussein & the alike who escaped and are still escaping wars and displacement and who engage themselves to the advancement of America. (The panel is a digital artwork merging the history with the presence sharing the same sentiments, and a collage of old maps of origin, Dir Tariff/Palestine.)
Translation from Spanish and Tagalog on panel:
For the American Dream
Did you forget
The dream you left behind.
This panel is intended to honor my parents Rey and Maria who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in the late 80s. Through sacrifice and hard work, they embody the elusive American Dream: finding remarkable professional and material success that would have never been conceivable in the Philippines. Like the majority of Filipino-Americans in the diaspora, this sacrifice also meant repressing Filipino heritage in our family to make way for assimilation into American culture. Although eternally grateful for the education, opportunities and material comforts afforded to me, I am conflicted by my parents' adopted political and world views as a sign of their indoctrination into the American Dream. My work as an artist rebels against assimilation and colonial subjugation through the active exploration of my own cultural identity and spiritual understanding. This image is a bright memory of my 1-year-old self with my parents, layered and obscured underneath painted gestures of longing for the land where our ancestors came from.
In absence of information about my great-grandmother, who immigrated from Ireland when she was a still a little girl, I interpreted the generations she produced - my grandmother, my mother, myself - into a feminist interrogation of the roles of women in society, from early twentieth century Ireland to today.
My parents came to the US from Italy almost by chance. My father had completed medical school in Padua and Rome, and my mother was working as a journalist in Rome. They were engaged and had very little money. Through a recommendation by a family friend, my mother got a job offer to be a visiting instructor in the Italian department at Smith College. After they married, my father was frustrated by the Italian medical system, and they had a chance to move to Massachusetts, where he became an anesthesiologist, and my mother a professor at Smith. In many ways we weren't a classic Italian immigrant family because my parents didn't come to the US because of financial need or political persecution, but in so many other ways we were. Our family culture was not the culture all around us. Growing up for me was a process of trying to figure out how people behaved, what was "normal" and what was "strange" to the children and parents around me. My sister and I grew up speaking perfect English and perfect Italian - but it was the nonverbal language of assumed behaviors that was always a challenge. I feel deep sympathy for all the immigrants who come to the US and have to walk the line between keeping their culture of origin and working to adapt. I see how much they enrich, give life and new dimension to their new country, and how much they contribute.
This is my great-grandmother and great-grandfather who came here on their honeymoon during the US Civil War and stayed because the Franco-Prussian War broke out at home. He planted an orchard, and she taught Greek and Latin in North Central Pennsylvania.
My panel honors my ancestors whom hail from African and Seminole Native Americans from Florida. I am an involuntary immigrant who came here via slavery and by chance became a 1st world citizen because of my Seminole Native American heritage.
Grace Perry was my 8th great-grandmother on my father's side. Grace was born in London in 1603, married Phillip Perry in London in 1623 and died in 1669 in Isle of Wight, Virginia.
The panel is a self portrait. The image is of me smiling, the two arrows are representing where I came from in Brazil colors. The border arrow is me as an American citizen, it is made with inches representing the USA, the only country that uses this time of measuring scale.
Cary Ann Eure
I did not know much about my ancestors beyond my great-grandparents, so I went online and traced my maternal grandmother's family back to Scotland in the 1700s. Sarah Berry Lyons was born in Scotland in 1700 and emigrated to Philadelphia in the 1720s. She then settled in North Carolina. I was really impressed and inspired by the courage it took for a young woman in that era to pull up stakes and move across an ocean to an unknown country. I did not have a picture of Sarah, so her panel, painted in gouache, portrays the turmoil of Sarah's sea voyage to the new world.
The photo is of my recently arrived parents to America, my grandfather who was visiting them from Palestine and my older sister as a baby. My mother came from Kiev, Ukraine and my father from Minsk both in Russia. My parents came to flee the Cossaks (pictured) and the pograms.
The red shapes near the top signify the blood of battle. The colored background represents their happiness they find in their new country.
Maureen S. Farrell
My father's grandfather left Ireland as a 16-year-old and came across the Atlantic alone. His father met him when he arrived. One story said he had no idea anyone would be meeting him, let alone his father. He worked as a cooper in Brooklyn, NY, where he moved to from Jersey City, NJ. Little else is known of him, except for the newspaper article found a few years ago of his serving in the Civil War.
Self portrait - inmigración.
I left Switzerland in 1975 and arrived in the "new world," as my grandmother called it in her handwritten good-bye note incorporated in my panel. She left her life journey, and I continue mine in my new world. A country where I found a lot of opportunities, freedom and good friends.
Portrait of my great-grandmother Minda Holtzberg Robinson as an old woman. She lived to be 89. Minda travelled from Lithuania to Baltimore circa 1890 with her six sons. The youngest was not much more than six years old, he was just a baby when her husband Abner immigrated. The Czar was impressing Jewish young men into his armies never to be seen again, so they had to leave. It took Abner those six years to save enough money for Minda and all of their boys to join him. My mother, now 94, the daughter of Minda's "change-of-life" child, the daughter born in America, lived in the same house as Minda for the first 17 years of her life. My mother is full of stories and details about this woman who was born in 1850.
My mother fled Köln, Germany, a few hours after her family was threatened by Nazi Brown Shirts in May 1933. She was 10. She was also very, very lucky that her family had the means and connections to escape, obtain the limited "quota" visas, and go to NY where her grandparents could sponsor and support them. My mother is 94 now, has Alzheimers, and came from a family that would not discuss much of the past, but I am still having occasional conversations about her early life. I am grateful that this project propelled me to explore this part of our family history and help me create some new memories with my mother.
My grandfather Charles Fishel came to America in 1923 from Poland. He was born in 1900. This panel honors his courage and his optimism about his new life in America.
The two people are great-grandparents who immigrated from Ireland in the early 1900s. The song Immigrant Song by Neil Sedaka - I included on my panel a short audio component to hear the verse that is written on the panel.
My petite young grandparents married in London, England, after emigrating from separate shtetls in Lithuania in the late 1890s. Their wedding photograph (over the Lithuanian flag) shows their anxiety. After two children were born in London, my grandfather sailed to New York to find a new life for his family and the four children that came afterwards. After living in Johnstown, PA, they moved to Washington, DC, to be near relatives.
My grandparents arrived from Poland through Ellis Island in 1914 as children. Both were born in Warsaw and came to the United States with their families in search of a better life. They lived in a Slavic neighborhood in PA and grew their own vegetables as they had in Poland. They talked about their native country all the time and missed their family dearly. My grandmother was always sending American toys back to Poland. They were proud of their heritage, but were also proud of the opportunities that were here for them, and later their children, because the United States Immigration Policy was generous to them. My panel represents the colors of the Polish flag with a silhouette of the Statue of Liberty imbedded in the flag where the Polish Coat of Arms would be. Underneath is a quote by JFK from 1958, which was part of a speech titled A Nation of Immigrants.
In 1959, the 26th of July Movement led by Fidel Castro ousted the authoritarian Cuban government of President Fulgencio Batista and a young recently married couple decided to wait and see if the new Cuba would be a good place to start a family. In the months that followed they realized, the revolution had not created a place for a family, they had to leave. Seven years later, in December of 1966, they stepped off a plane in Miami and soon started the family they had postponed. My panel tells the story of my parents journey from post revolutionary Cuba to America as political refugees.
DeLesslin George-Warren is a queer artist, performer, researcher, and citizen of Catawba Indian Nation. In this panel he recounts the beginning of the Catawban apocalypse - our ancestors' first interaction with Europeans. The piece is a memorial to all of the strong, smart, powerful women of Catawba Indian Nation who have walked on to the next world, including DeLesslin's elder sister, Katherine George-Warren, who left this world on September 15th, 2017 after 9 months of hospitalization.
My panel represents history of my family in USA. It's a very short history, and it started with me and my husband immigrating from Russia in 1991 and 1990 respectively.
A slightly mythological account of my grandfather and Marc Chagall.
My Grandfather, a man I never met, immigrated to the USA in 1912. Samuel was an avid photographer and the oldest known artist of our family. The painting is developed from three photos in Philadelphia of Gordon's Pharmacy. I took the liberty of changing the family name back to our Ukrainian heritage, Gorodetski, and put it in the original Cyrillic. Had our family not been persecuted for their ethnicity and beliefs, I imagine the pharmacy would have been in Ukraine and not in Philly. I combined the photos I had to accomplish several different things. The original pictures of my father Meyer as a young teen and of my grandfather were separate images; in both they stand alone. Growing up I always got the feeling that for my father, the loss of his father was a very difficult one. Never one that he was able to express in words because the emotions were too strong. I felt it would make my father happy that they get to be together here. I also made sure to include some of the neighborhood buildings to help give that corner-store feeling that is so absent from our modern metropolis. The sort of place that would appear right at home in a small village in Ostropole, Ukraine.
I have two panels which address how class colors attitudes about immigration. My mother's lineage is very well documented. My father's lineage is not, possibly due to indentured servitude.
I have two panels which address how class colors attitudes about immigration. My mother's lineage is very well documented. My father's lineage is not, possibly due to indentured servitude.
My great-grandmother Elizabeth Medley was born in 1865 in St. Mary's County, Maryland, and has lived in Prince George's County, Maryland, Washington, DC, and Jersey City, New Jersey. She was the mother of seventeen children. I can trace my ancestry back to my 5th great-grandmother Amanda Ridgely, who was born in 1742 and lived in St. Mary's County, Maryland.
Judybeth Green and Zoe Fagnani
This panel is in honor of my great grandparents Ben & Sarah Chomento, who immigrated to the US from a Jewish shtetl in Ciechanow, Poland, in the early 1900s. Ben & Sarah married in 1904 and had a baby soon after. During this time there were a number of Cossack raids, and cholera was prevalent. Treatment of Jewish people in the area was very bad. (My mom emphasized to me many times that Ben and Sarah were not "Polish" because Jews in Poland were not given citizenship.) When Ben got an order to join the Russian military, he left Poland for the United States because he felt that as a Jew he would be killed in the military.
Ben's last name was changed during intake at Ellis Island to "Menter" from "Chomento." In the US, Ben worked as a tailor for his uncle Harris Harris (another Ellis Island glitch) and sent money back to Poland so that Sarah and their young child could come to the States. Ben's brother Jake came with Sarah and pretended to be her husband in order to protect her on the boat. Ben and Sarah moved to Syracuse, NY, and had a total of 7 children, including my grandfather Abraham Menter and great-aunt Evelyn for whom my daughter was named.
This work was drawn by Zoe Evelyn Fagnani (age 13), and I tried to paint within the lines.
My panel is called "home." I grew up in Pakistan until I was eleven years old. What made us leave Pakistan was a war. My father was working for the Pakistani government at the time as the director of tourism, but he was from East Pakistan and suspected as soon as tensions started building in East Pakistan. I remember being terrified of what war meant. My only idea about it was what I saw in movies. In my mind I pictured tanks coming down our streets and bombs being dropped. I remember my mom and dad anxiously discussing late one night what would be the best thing to do, as they knew that they would be coming to put my father under house arrest. My mother was a well-known broadcaster and award-winning novelist so she was allowed to leave the country with her kids, telling them we were going on vacation to London. We all knew we were never coming back. I drew a detailed layout of the house we lived in so I wouldn’t forget my home. A few days after we left my father was under house arrest and not allowed to communicate with us for almost a year. War had broken out between West Pakistan and East Pakistan. East Pakistan wanted their liberation from West Pakistan and Bangladesh was created. My mother, my two siblings and I lived with friends and family, waiting and praying for my father’s safety. Finally my father escaped and left everything we had behind with whatever money he could bring with him and met us in London. We would end up living another year in London while waiting for our green cards to be processed. My aunt and uncle who have been in United States since the 50s and were American citizens were sponsoring us. I grew up speaking three languages, and English was one of them, so at least I didn’t have that hurdle. I had been going to all girls’ school until I came to America, and then I was thrown into the American school system. Needless to say I had major culture shock. I was just starting high school, and I absolutely hated it. I grew up never feeling like I had a homeland, never feeling connected to any place. I have been here the longest, so I think of America as my home until someone I don’t know is introduced to me, and the first thing they ask me is “So where are you from?” I sometimes feel no matter how long I live here there will always be people who won’t accept me as an American because I look different. I am glad it’s not very often that I encounter that question from a stranger, and I am thankful that I am surrounded by loving friends and family who help me believe that this is my "home,."
Sondra Barrett Hassan
This is the only known photograph of my grandfather. Nothing is known of his parents and ancestors. I can say with certainty that his being in America was not by choice.
My panel is done in the style reminiscent of a children’s book illustration. What I know of my grandmother is mostly oral history passed down from family members. The scene depicted on my panel is how I imagined, as a child, my grandmother and her sister leaving their home in Culls Harbour on a boat when they were teenagers.
My grandmother Alexandra Caine (maiden name Roach) was born in 1907 in Culls Harbour, Newfoundland. Everyone called her Alice. Culls Harbor is in Bonavista Bay. Family history says that two generations before Alice, Victor Roach was the first Roach to settle in Newfoundland. He arrived in Bonavista Bay in 1861 when he was fourteen years old as a stowaway on a rum-running boat from Barbados. The boat shipwrecked on the Hower Rocks, and Victor survived by floating ashore on a beer barrel.
Alice was the oldest of four children. Her father’s occupation is unknown, but many of the men in Culls Harbor worked in the timber mill, and some were boat builders. When Alice was thirteen, her mother died, leaving Alice and her sister Jean to raise their siblings. The area where they lived (an island?) was fairly isolated, and her father would sometimes be gone for days for work. The household would run low on oil and food, and travel to and from the home was impossible in bad weather. The local school was reached by water, and Alice could attend only when the weather permitted.
When Alice was seventeen years old, her father remarried, and she and her sister Jean left home, taking a boat across to Newfoundland. She and Jean made their way to the Montreal area, where they found work in a lodge. In Montreal, Alice met my grandfather Edward Caine, a miner’s son from Magog. They got married and moved to the Boston area in September, 1929, a month before the stock market collapsed at the beginning of the Great Depression. Ed studied accounting at Northeastern University, and their first child Sybil was born in Boston nine months after they married. Alice and Ed raised four girls, Sybil, Joan (my mother), Sandra, and Nancy. My mother, Joan, married Richard Hill, and they had four girls. I am the youngest.
Alice Caine, Culls Harbor, Newfoundland 1907 - 1973.
Courtesy of Steven Scott Gallery, Baltimore.
I am an immigrant from Dublin, Ireland and my husband is an immigrant from Georgetown, Guyana. We are a mixed racial couple and my husband, not being white, has encountered discrimination in every country he has lived. Both of us had worked as software engineers for the travel industry and when it came time to put down roots as a couple in 1996 we decided to settle in the USA and make the Washington DC metropolitan area our home. We made that decision believing that the US offered the best in the world in terms of opportunity, equality, tolerance and inclusion for all.
Warren Alan Jackson
The painting on display is a portrait of my grandparents, around 1934; my grandfather was a school teacher. He owned 54 acres in Fairfax Co. VA. The property was original Sharper's acres, my grandmother's great-great-grandfather. He, Daniel Sharper, paid for his freedom and bought the land on April 6, 1825. His head stone, along with a lot of my other relatives', are located at Pleasant Grove Historical Cemetary, down the street from Tyson's II Mall, VA.
Louisa Cohen was born in the US in 1874 to German/Jewish immigrants. At an early age, she and her family immigrated to Germany, where she eventually married and then raised two daughters. By the 1930s her daughters had families of their own, and her husband had recently died, so Louisa thought a trip to America for a short visit would be a good change from the political atmosphere in Germany. With a US citizenship, she was able to leave in January, 1937, not realizing that she would never be able to return. One daughter whom she would never see again perished in the Holocaust; the other managed to get visas with her husband and son to Bolivia, as late as 1939. They immigrated to the US in 1946 and mother and daughter were reunited. Louisa's grandson married the artist that did this panel.
I came to the US in 1981 with my husband, who was enrolled in a PhD program at GWU. The panel as a whole represents my Middle Eastern cultural and ethnic background. There's a Turkish coffee pot and cup in the lower right-hand corner, depicting spilled grounds flowing out of the cup lying on its side. This symbolizes the start of my journey to the US...back home, they read your future using coffee grounds. My cup said, "you will embark on a long journey."
My piece is entitled "Refugee, Immigrant, Me" -- my grandmother was a refugee from Asia Minor (today's Turkey) forcefully evicted from her Greek hometown with the events of World War 1. I too left my homeland behind, came to the U.S. as a Greek immigrant, and became an artist, university professor, and writer (I have just completed a novel relating to the current refugee crisis and to immigration). My piece symbolizes my grandmother's hopes for rebuilding her torn life, as well as the dreams and aspirations of those of us who, whether willingly or by force, leave one life behind and make this country their second home.
I grew up in Saint Petersburg, Russia; or Leningrad, Soviet Union, as it was called then. When I started college in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. These were the exciting times of perestroika and glastnost. I did my first oil painting during that time, inspired by the combination of Saint Petersburg's classical beauty and the contemporary art emerging into public view.
The Soviet Union collapsed a year later. We gained the freedom of movement. While still students, my husband and I went to England, where he found a job. We stayed in London for three years and then relocated to the US – Birmingham, Alabama.
We stayed in Birmingham for six years. I went to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to finish my studies, including extensive art studio courses and the interdisciplinary curriculum of the UAB Honors Program. This close-knit academic community helped me understand and integrate into the new country.
In 2002, we moved to the Washington, DC, area, where I continued to paint and eventually obtained a Master's degree from Georgetown University.
The panel features all the places of personal significance in my coming to the DC area.
- Dominating the piece is a "well" courtyard that I had grown up in, a typical space in St. Petersburg's historic city center. The middle square is divided into two parts: the sky, which one would see when looking up surrounded by the building walls of the "well," and the asphalt, on which one would play as a child.
- On each side of the panel, I drew the outlines of buildings: the Berlin Wall in its "fall" days; the Houses of Parliament in London; the stained glass window of a former church which houses the UAB Honors Program (coincidentally, Baryshnikov had practiced in that building), and the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art (which for me represents Washington, DC, more than the other DC buildings.)
My panel honors my 5th great-grandfather Jacob Kauffman who was born in 1733 in the Palatinate district, a province of Bavaria in Germany. Once a prosperous region, it was devastated by the Thirty Year’s War and then ravaged by Louis XIV who drove the Palatinates out, then burned their villages and plowed under their fields. He created a system of oppression and intolerance that nearly wiped out the minority religions. The war ended, but their troubles did not; intolerable religious conditions continued.
The outstretched hand in my panel represents William Penn, the Quaker pacifist, philosopher and land developer who in 1681 received a charter from the King of England to pay off a debt to Penn’s father, making Penn the sole proprietor of a large tract of land in North America which was named Pennsylvania. Penn offered the oppressed German peasants a home where they could live without war and persecution in what was called “Penn’s Holy Experiment.” Jacob was 13 when his family sailed to the New World on the ship Brotherhood from Rotterdam on November 3, 1750. Jacob’s Amish parents died shortly after arrival, and Jacob grew up in the homes of friends and relatives and married into a Mennonite family. The Mennonites were pacifists and lived peaceably with the Native Americans for many years. Over thirty thousand German settlers began a new life in a new country and became known as the “Pennsylvania Dutch.”
The folk art in the panel represents the expression of the Old World toughened by the New. The early settlers were mostly farmers, which meant they were also craftsmen, welders and carpenters. Most of the objects they produced were utilitarian, but as they prospered the objects became more decorative with patterns and motifs that originated in the Old World and became personal reflections of the family. Manuscripts were illustrated with quill pens, pencils and brushes on paper. Birth, baptismal and wedding certificates and family registers, though not legal documents, are important examples of what is known as “fracture.” The tulip, a common motif and widely grown in Pennsylvania, was very popular in Germany, brought to Europe from Asia Minor in the 16th century. Birds such as eagles were also used, as well as peacocks, parrots, warblers and the “distelfink.”
I am of the Atlantic. As a child in Kerry, the southwest of Ireland, I learned that Greenland lies due west, Newfoundland just south of west, and that America lies southwest, beyond the setting sun. This was even before I learned to row in a naomhog, or steer a small sailboat. Kerry people have voyaged the Atlantic since the earliest times, so it was very simple to move and settle in the wider spaces, the warmer clime, the taller forests of tulip trees, scented with wild wisteria, of Maryland, near the Chesapeake Bay - The Land of Pleasant Living.
This panel honors my paternal grandmother Sophie Bebchick Liss. She immigrated from Steppin, a small village in the Ukraine. She left home at age 7 with her mother & siblings, arriving at Ellis Island in 1909. The family reunited with her father who was living in New Bedford, Massachusetts. They came to this country, leaving everything they knew, including their language, & were proud & grateful to have the opportunity to call themselves American. I honor there determination & courage.
This panel is dedicated to my Dad who left Kolomyia (now in Ukraine) in 1937 for New York. He was the only survivor of his entire family, made up of three generations living in the same town. His only surviving drawing, done at age 80, shows a house of peace. It reflected how he lived his life, with a strong sense of peace, harmony, humanity and joy notwithstanding his family's ordeal and tragic end.
My mother Evalotte Lewinsohn Shalit survived wars, living in 3 countries. From the age of 17 she was alone and separated from her family. She was a strong woman, a capable woman, who brought us to the USA in 1957.
This is about my grandmother Fanny who came to US as a teenager by herself from what is now Belarus - she spoke no English and had few possessions - she worked as a seamstress and lived with the hope of making a better life for her children
The story of my father's coming to America is a classic young immigrant's tale. His father came first, worked hard to earn money for the rest of the family to come. My father was born in Austria/Poland in a town that is now part of the Ukraine. He came with his mother and two siblings. They settled in the lower East Side of New York. Four more children were born there. He was the only one to finish high school and go to college. Among his several jobs, he help organize the steam fitters union, Local #1 in New York. He helped build army camps and ships during WWII. He married and raised four children, making a life for them better than the one he had. America was built with many immigrants like him.
As an immigrant of the first generation, the acts of separation from my mother country and connection to my adopted country have been at the core of my migration/immigration journey. In my panel entitled "House of Separation and Connection," which depicts images of hands knitting away with unraveling yarn, I strived to express the very transformative process that I believe every immigrant undergoes in his/her/their immigration life.
Kay S. Lindsey
"Even If I Danced From the Pleiades...," a collaged poem, speaks to our common cosmic origins and on facets of the fragmented migratory history of many of us.
I know nothing of my ancestors other than that they came here from Hungary and Russia.
Our connections to our ancestors is not a blood, or genetic connection. It is the connection of people who cared for and fed the people our stories include.
In 1914, my teenaged grandmother left her beloved family and traveled alone from Hungary to America to avoid an arranged marriage and mounting anti-Semitism.
She walked, took trains and finally made her way to the port in Bremen, Germany.
Along the way, she made friends with other young travelers.
To stay with them, she traded her second class ticket for a steerage ticket.
Perhaps not her best decision.
It was a horrible voyage and she was sea sick most of the time.
When she arrived at Ellis Island, she did not look her best.
The guards saw her red, swollen, tear-stained eyes as diseased, and chalked her sleeve with a big X—rejected.
My grandmother had guts and moxie, and she was not going back to Hungary.
She watched and waited, then made her move.
Using her own spit, she artfully wiped that X off her coat, then cautiously and carefully moved to the processing line to begin her new life in New York.
Welcome to America, Molly Willinger.
In the center of the panel, she is dressed in a rented bathing suit at Jones Beach.
This was her first date with the man who would become my grandfather.
Rosemary Schell Luckett. My grandparents immigrated from Volga German territory, south central Russia to USA in 1911. Barbara Steinbach Schell b. 1887 Schuck, Russia. Adam Schell b.1810 Seewald, Russia. Back story to their immigration: Volga Germans came to Russia from Germany at request of Catherine the Great beginning 1767 and expanded over time to more than 100 villages with surrounding farms. From the dry lands of the steppes colonists created, along with farmers in Ukraine, Russia’s breadbasket. So why did so many eventually leave Russia for Germany, United States and South America at the cusp of the 20th century? --periodic severe drought, --acute land shortage, --loss of time-honored colonist language and religious privileges, --revocation of military draft exemption, --growing mood of anti-German-ism, --impending war (WWI)/Bolshevik Revolution. Relatives who stayed behind suffered from: --famine in 1920-24, --collectivized communist farms 1927-30, --exile by Stalin of 400,000 German-speakers (my relatives) to Siberian. Kazakhstan, Altai work camps--death as cannon fodder during WWII, --theft and dismantling of Volga German homes and farms. Sichel und Hammer/Armut und Jammer (sickle and hammer/ poverty and sorrow). What happened to my grandparents during their migration to USA? They traveled 1900 miles to Bremen, Germany and boarded seagoing freighters. Barbara or the baby was sick and unable to travel, so Adam boarded the SS Frankfort alone on Sept. 21 traveling 5000 miles before arriving in Galveston, Texas October 14, 1911. From there, traveled to Colorado where relatives had already settled. Barbara and baby Mary boarded the SS Main at Bremen on Oct.12 and sailed for three weeks across the Atlantic to Baltimore harbor. Seasickness prevailed. Travelers were considered freight. No passenger amenities like decks with chairs or actual sleeping rooms. Barbara was afraid of having her daughter stolen during the Atlantic crossing. Sausage and bread sustained these Kolbasniki on the trip. It’s been said: “Where Hessians and Hollanders do not thrive, no one else can keep alive.” By the time they reached the United States, Volga Germans were practiced at staying alive in unbearable places under intolerable conditions. Their “new” life has hard too. --My grandparents were migrant workers until they settled in Rupert, Idaho, -- There Adam died leaving Barbara, who spoke no English, to provide for five children, --She persisted with the help of family and community, marrying an alcoholic widower two years later, --Barbara had 11 children and lived to see them all grown and self-sufficient, --My father was bullied and beat up on account of his accent. He dropped out of school to work for other farmers to earn money for the family. It was a rough childhood characterized by shortages of food. Like the rest of his family he went through poverty and sorrow. But, unlike those remaining in Russia, he eventually thrived on a farm of his own and had a family to enjoy. Each succeeding generation now lives productively in this, our diverse democracy.
It honors my grandmother who came to the US from Sicily through Ellis Island when she was six. The panel includes images of the manifest listing her with her mother and two brothers, along with an image of the ship they traveled on, a picture of her before leaving Italy, and one of her and her sister in the US. This was a wonderful project! Thank you!
My panel. I am the only person in my Japanese family ever moved to US. Carrying my Japanese heritage, experience and curiosities, I came to this country to pursue my new adventure. I started to see how much power, energy and creativity can be born from the diversity of people in this country. We all look different. We think and act differently. I am happy and proud to be different in this country as an artist and as a human.
The panel tells my the story about my grandmother's shtetl in Russia (now Belarus), which suffered pogroms, including fires, looting, and destruction of Jewish property, beginning in the 1800's. It depicts the marketplace, where Jews gathered to shop for items such as herring, pots and wheat, and to go to synagogue. In 1941 the Nazis massacred all 1,600 Jews in the shtetl. My grandmother, fortunately, immigrated to the U.S. in 1898, well before the 1941 massacre.
Two generations from Honduras, Central America. Mother, Uncle and Grandmother making a life in America.
E. Tina Martin Wyatt
The panel text describes my ancestor Modesty (who was brought to America from Ghana prior to 1775), Modesty's daughter Rit, and Rit's children, one being Harriet Ross Tubman and other siblings of which one is my Great Great Great Grandmother, Soph. It further denotes that they are the property of the Pattison Estate giving their monetary value should they decide to sell them. The distorted chains exemplifies the twisted thinking of a society gone wrong and the agony of those who lived within its stronghold.
I have always been in awe of the tenacity and spirit of my Great Grandmother Dormandy who, against all odds, was an orphan who immigrated from Ireland to the USA to create a life for herself. A woman small in demeanor but huge in persistence and heart, she ironed clothes for a living with a sense of humor and Irish spirit.
My grandmother Mommy Kay is the inspiration for my panel. When I was young I would stop by her house on my way home from school. She lived only a few blocks around the corner from where I grew up. In the afternoon I would find Mommy Kay sitting in her garden/library room reading. I would come up the front steps and see her there. Immediately I felt at home. Once I asked her "Did you read all these books?" "Oh yes my dear and many many more. I have run out of shelf space and now I only borrow books from the library." Mommy Kay would recite Longfellow poems by heart. That impressed me. Once she told me that Longfellow mentioned a "Monk Otto" in one of his poems. "Who is Monk Otto?" I asked. "Well he is a very distant relative." she replied with a little bit of family pride in her voice. I wasn't impressed.... "Who cares about an ole Monk living somewhere far away." I thought. "And besides I'm glad I don't have to recite a really dull poem by Longfellow at my school even if it mentions an important Monk who is distantly related." When I was asked to contribute an ancestor panel I tried to find a reference to Monk Otto in Longfellow's writings but I couldn't find anything. However I did I uncovered Father Frank, my grandmother's cousin, who lived and was ordained in Paris France in the early part of the 20th Century. He was a historian and traveled to Germany to research his and my grandmother's family. I am still searching for Monk Otto. Did my grandmother make up the story about Monk Otto? Or is my childhood memory incomplete and I missed an important element?
Theresa Knight McFadden
Stephen Hopkins was a passenger on the Mayflower. He is the only passenger who had been to America before. In 1609 he was on a ship headed for Jamestown that wrecked in Bermuda. Scholars feel that Shakespeare based his play "The Tempest" on this shipwreck and his character Stephano on Stephen Hopkins. He eventually sailed to Jamestown where he stayed until 1614 when he was called home to England on his wife's death. He remarried and he, his wife and 3 of his children sailed to Provincetown, MA on the Mayflower in 1620. His wife gave birth to their son, Oceanus on the voyage. He was the only child born on the ship. Hopkins became the owner of an ordinary in Plymouth, MA and died in or around 1644.
The artwork on this panel is inspired from a notebook my mother brought with her to the United States from Guatemala in 1983. She had her closest relatives and friends write goodbye letters in it. It has been a source of inspiration for me throughout my artwork via photography, illustration, and digital collage.
My panel, titled "In Limbo", is about my journey to the US to study. To study what I wished to - an opportunity my country of birth denied me due to my minority status, though I was natural born there. Despite the immense opportunity afforded me here, and my undying gratitude for it, I am everyday "in limbo" culturally. I have been in the US for 35 years, am well assimilated and yet still torn between two cultures. Yes, there are benefits to it. But there is also a sense of betrayal to my family who remain in my country of birth.
Sam Miller was my grandfather on my father's side. He was the 2nd or 3rd of 11 full siblings and two half brothers. Their name was Moncarz or Macarz, which meant Mill since his family owned a flower mill in Pultusk, Poland. The relative who welcomed him at Ellis Island told him to use Miller. In American he made coats in the Garment Business in Chelsea NY city. He was the first to come to the USA. My grandparents always lived in Brooklyn. They had two sons and my father was the older one. My grand father sponsored many relatives in coming to the US, both before and after the Holocaust. He was kind of a gruff person, but he surely loved his grandchildren. And one of the workers in the coat factory that I liked to visit always told me that my father was the partner who really took care of the workers.
My grandparents immigrated from Sicily. My grandmother came to Boston with her parents when she was 2 and my grandfather arrived when he was 20. They met in Boston and later moved to California. They are standing in front of the California house on the panel. I included a portion of the sky from a Giotto fresco to represent Italy. I have included their birth years.
My grandmothers people immigrated to this country in 1620. They sailed on the Mayflower and landed in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. Over half of them died the first winter. I admire them for their courage to leave their homeland to face many challenges.
I wanted to depict an ancestor who immigrated from Ireland and thought it had been my grandfather George Moran, so I did his portrait from a photo. I later learned it had been his father, William Marcellian Moran who had come over during the terrible potato famine. I learned a lot about my family history doing this project.
Miriam Mörsel Nathan
1937 Zdena & Marek Mörsel are married in Prague. 1939-40 Marek escapes Nazi persecution and eventually finds refuge in Sosua, Dominican Republic. 1940 The plan is for Zdena to follow but she cannot get a visa to leave and is forced to remain in Prague. Marek tries to get papers for her to come to the D.R., to no avail. 1942 Zdena is deported to Terezin. 1945 World War II ends. Zdena & Marek’s families in Europe have been decimated. Zdena returns to Prague & sends a cable to Marek’s aunt in America informing her that she has survived. Marek’s aunt contacts him & tells him that Zdena is alive. 1946 It takes a year to arrange for Zdena to come to the D.R. After 7 years separated by war, Zdena & Marek are reunited in the Dominican Republic. 1948 With hope for a safe and better future, Zdena, Marek and their baby Mirjam emigrate to America…
My great grandfather, John Watson Mills, was born September 15, 1847 in King William County, Virginia to Edward Mills and Mary Francis Miles. His father owned a farm in the area now known as West Point, VA. His immediate family’s racial identification varied during his lifetime based on census racial categories, geography, time and marriage. Pamunkey individuals that left the reservation longer than two years forfeited their privileges and designation as tribal members. After the Civil War, tribal law prohibited intermarriage with any race except White and Indian under penalty of forfeiting rights in Indian Town. My great grandfather chose to forfeit all rights and privileges of tribal membership when he left King William County to marry Martha Goings, a Mulatto. They settled in McLean and raised a family of three. According to census records and draft cards, John Watson was now Mulatto, Colored or Black. Siblings that maintained contact with Pamunkey Indian Town and married White or Indian were classified as Indian. My mother’s older brothers and sisters grew up on his McLean farm. They recalled his disdain for kinsmen that succumbed to racial hatred instigated and institutionalized by the U.S. and Virginia governments. The interracial marriage ban was finally rescinded in 2012. That paved the way for federal recognition of the Pamunkey nation in 2016.
I'm proud to be in this field of amazing Americans. Almost all from immigrant families past or present. My panel includes my cantor great great grandfather who came from Germany in 1882. My great grandmother whose mother embroidered the outside of fur lined coats. The ancestors who owned Sammys on the bowery, my grandmother born here who played concert violin. Music makes or world go round.
Margot S. Neuhaus
This is a moment in my life. I was painting a larger work leaving the panel on the floor below, letting the paint drip, etc. on it. Then I just made lines with my fingers. The surface is imperfect, as is life.
This panel is about my father, Ole Sove. It's really a love story and in many ways an iconic WWII romance. He and his two brothers joined the Allied forces in 1939 when Hitler invaded Norway. The Norwegian merchant fleet was the world's second largest and was essential for bringing munitions and supplies to ports worldwide. My father was torpedoed twice, once right off the coast of NC where his ship, the S/S Nordal sank. His youngest brother died in a U-boat attack in the South China Sea. Ole continued his service till the war's end. He wrote letters from every port to a young woman he had met when on shore leave in NYC. They went dancing together whenever his ship docked in NY harbor. I've included one of a collection of nightclub photos. Despite the terrible danger there were glamorous and romantic times too. They married in 1946 and produced a baby boomer in 1947 (me.) My parents lived together in Brooklyn until Ole's death in 1981.
I was named (middle name) after my father's mother Lorene Norris. I never knew her as she died long before I was born. My father James Norris and his brother Herman were raisied by a grandfather and never really knew their mother. I have never seen a photo of her. She has remained a mysterious figure who was separated from her husband and young children at an early age, for reasons that have never been explained. And yet, all my life I have felt her presence and her guidance whispering to me over my shoulder. I wanted to bring her out of the shadows and into the light through painting a portrait of her which bears a family resemblance to me, my sisters and daughter. It felt important to have her name and the names of her two young sons visible and part of the portrait. It has been a very moving experience for me to honor and connect with her in this way. She has been in the shadows long enough and her Scotch-Irish heritage continue into the future. Her struggles have helped make our world what it is and I am grateful for her sacrifices.
Mary D. Ott
The panel relates the story of my father's great-grandparents who immigrated to Sheffield, Lorain County, Ohio in 1843 from the town of Illerich in the Cochem-Zell region of Germany. The picture show the couple, Johann Diederich and Gertrude Saurens, at the time of their 60th wedding anniversary. The photo at the top of the panel is a recent view of Illerich. The photo at the bottom shows the couple's home and barn in Sheffield around 1900. The names on the left side of the panel are the family names of Gertrude's ancestors; the names on the right side are the family names of Johann's ancestors.
Coming to America as a child I lived in what used to be a lively German neighborhood in Chicago, where shops, restaurants, radio stations, newspapers and groceries all operated in the German language. I learned about my heritage from aunts and uncles proud of their ancestor's contribution to their adopted country. It made them and us feel a real part of America and that we had a lot to offer too. I loved learning how much I had in common with my famous Senator cousin, 100 years apart!
The story on my panel is the immigration story of my great grandmother who came to the United States from Quebec, Canada. Though I never met her, I will always associate her with a large feathered hat, which she wore in a photograph made when she was a young woman.
This panel honors my Grandfather, Levy Puker, who was born on the 10th of May 1901 in Illintsi, Vinnyts’ka Russia now Ukraine. His village was massacred and he was the sole survivor of his entire family. He came to the US in November 1923. His story was the catalyst for my early paintings where I used the plaster shards imbedded in gesso layers to represent the broken world he left behind but always carried with him. This has grown into my more universal message of meaning and preciousness of life and healing a broken world.
This is how I see the US flag. Instead of white and red stripes you can see many lines of different colors, that signify the multicultural community that exists in the US. The black targets on the multicolored lines signify that many of these communities are targeted. Instead of The stars I put many black and white dots, that signify the mourning of all the people that have been targeted just because of the color of their skin, their beliefs or their country of origin. Me as a Puerto Rican I chose to put the image of the Puerto Rican map sinking on the "big water" which represents how colonies have been forgotten.
My panel for the One House immigration project honours the strong, beautiful women who touched my life before I came to the USA from South Africa. I remember these women with a grateful heart and strive to carry them and their voices with me. Their example and wisdom is encapsulated in a cornerstone philosophy of Ubuntu. Ubuntu can be translated as you find your own humanity in your humanity to others. It's an concept of being interconnected; I am what I am because of who we all are. I wanted my panel to appear like an illustrated piece of writing from a school book. I liked that idea as it reaches back to the young me who looked to those women who have been an enduring guiding force in my life long after they have passed from this world. They are my ancestral voices. The writing on my panel also tells the story behind the self portrait wrapped in a blanket; a cherished gift that marks rite of passage and pivitol life events in many South African cultures.
The four figures at the ship represent four ancestors from my Mom's side of the family who came over on the Mayflower: Isaac Allerton and his wife Mary Norris and their daughter Mary Allerton and her husband Degory Priest. From my Dad's side, Tristram Coffin and a group of others in Somerset, MA bought Nantucket Island and built the whaling industry there. Hugh Moser, a French Huguenot, left France to escape persecution. Coffins and Mosers still have huge family reunions. The The blue represents the family line spreading down throughg the years. The houses with a woman stand for making a home and the work the women did to make it possible, often behind the scenes. The keys represent ownership and a safe place. The broken key symbolizes my great grandad Alonso Munger losing his farm during the depression. The man with the wagon is him being allowed to take all he could fit in his wagon when he left, an unusual occurrence showing the respect he was given. In his 80's, my dad made his own trek, taking several items from that wagon around the country in a u-haul to spread them among family members. The livestock and farm images represent the many farmers in the family. The Kansas Gold image is a nod to where my folks grew up and met. The five people in Northfield, Vermont are my family, the Mungers. The poem is acknowledging the hardships endured and the love extended, both now and then.
The Platts were among the first families to move to the 500 block of 45th Street NE, Washington DC, after WWII. Most of the men on the block participated in a once a month nickel-dime poker game where they got together at someone's house, played cards and offered solutions to national and local problems. My father, Brooks, 96, is now the Last Man Standing—the last one left alive. This is in honor of Barber, Ash, Platt, Jones, Gainous, Mac, Dozier, Jim Bell and CB.
My Grandfather, Walter Harris Lewis, the only son of a well-to-do Jewish family, fled Lithuania in the beginning of the 20th Century to escape conscription in the Tzarist army. He arrived in this country as an adolescent without much English or money. Like many Jewish immigrants he began as a peddler- selling what he could carry as he walked from New York to Texas. By the time he reached Texas, he had saved enough to buy two mules and thus increase sales. He made enough to return to Lithuania and buy a farm - a lifelong love. He returned to the U.S. and was able to bring his 3 sisters and mother. This time he settled in Huntington, W. Va., a small city located on two major means of transportation: the Ohio River and the C&O railroad. He thought this would assure economic growth.
From Huntington, Walter Lewis founded a chain a small furniture stores and developed both commercial and residential real estate.
The panel I created traces the journey from the young boy in Lithuania to the young man in Texas. It juxtaposes a map of Tzarist Lithuania with a map of Huntington, West Virginia in the 1930’s when my grandfather was getting established. His life is represented by transparent layers that create a complex final image.
This panel depicts the 18 year old version of myself. Young, naïve, enthusiastic for what life would bring.
I grew up in South Africa. I was exposed to racial discrimination as a political philosophy( Apartheid) and way of life. I was taught by my society that I was not fully acceptable; my mixed heritage was a shame for which I would suffer certain disadvantages. Apartheid has since been replaced by Democracy in South Africa.
I have since come to celebrate who I am. Had migration never occurred, our world would be a different place. We would be trapped in xenophobia; lacked the sharing of ideas and resulting innovations; suffered in our isolation....
I thank my ancestors for their migration from different parts of West, East and South Africa, Britain, The Netherlands and Ashkenazim for my genetic make up. Without them, I could not exist.
My panel is about my journey from South to North America as a first generation American.
People are often surprised to find out that my parents were immigrants. I suspect that this is partially because immigration today is primarily seen as a racial issue. My panel concerns my father who came to the United States from Germany in November 1938 two weeks before Kristallnacht - violent anti-Jewish pogroms that occurred throughout Germany. It took twelve months for his family to receive immigration visas from the United States. His family was fortunate. If they had not immigrated, they probably would have been shipped to Auschwitz.
My panel represents family. How our family shared our stories and how we lived and how we have grown. And always with unconditional love.
It's a representation of my aunt who was the first one to leave Colombia and come to the U.S by herself in the 70s, as she was just a teenager, and because of her we are all here today in a country where we gain a better life.. She is someone who always works hard, who never says "No" she helps anyone of us with anything, she is a person with a heart of gold.
I am an eleventh generation immigrant to this country. The earliest immigrants in my family were Richard and Elizabeth Edelen, who came to Maryland from England in 1664/5. Richard was appointed Deputy Surveyor of the Maryland Province in 1670. They had six children and grew tobacco in St. Mary’s County.
As an art historian, I added to the existing family genealogical records with my own visual art research. For my panel, I searched portraits from the mid-17th century in the British National Portrait Gallery website, which lead me to the “1642goodwyfe” blog. This portrait, possibly of Richard Streatfeild and family (ca. 1645), by painter William Dobson is of a landed gentry family that could resemble my ancestors. It’s now in the Yale Center for British Art. The map depicts the Chesapeake Bay area at the time they arrived, as recorded in 1673.
Coincidentally, over 350 years later, I am also living in Maryland with my family.
I sat with this project for months! I struggled to find the visual story of what I wanted to convey about my family's immigrant experiences. Like many, there are stories of struggle and loss, tenacity and triumph. And I mulled over those stories, over and over again and just couldn't put my finger on what I wanted to convey. But finally, it came to me. Immigrants have to leave so much behind--their culture, people they love, favorite foods, animals, beloved homes and landscapes, and, often, lastly, their language. And it was a story surrounding this loss of language that ended up being the inspiration for my panel. My great grandparents settled on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota (insert image of vast prairies and birch forests here!). My grandmother's brother began school at the county's one room schoolhouse. He came home from school upset because he was being teased for only speaking Swedish. My great-grandfather, upon hearing that, said the words I put on my panel--"From today forward, we speak only English in this house". That story seems rather innocuous in light of so many of the other struggles they endured, but it spoke to the heart of what I was feeling...that at some point, the struggle of immigrating is past and now the individuals are faced with truly starting a new life in their new home. And that requires more loss...in this case, the loss of language. Yes, a person can continue speaking their mother tongue between family, friends, neighbors, but in order to really embrace a new culture and country, language is what opens doors, provides new experiences and opportunities and helps us connect, build community. I can't help but wonder if it was at that point that my great grandfather and great grandmother truly made that choice to stay, to build a life, to give their children the gift of a new culture through the loss of their own.
In 1921, my great-grandmother Tomasina made the journey from Italy to Southern Colorado as a mail-order bride. In my panel, I have used the immigration records documenting her passage through Ellis Island and glassine envelopes symbolizing the means of communication to bring her to this country and her connection back to her home. Twenty-five years old with $50 in her pocket, she arrived to meet a man she had never met, to live and work on a farm in a country she had never seen, knowing she would never again see her family or homeland.
My grandfather came to America from Denmark to study to be a Lutheran minister as he could not afford to make this happen in Denmark. However, it never happened here either. He became a steel worker in NY and worked on the Brooklyn bridge; built a house in Brooklyn after marrying my Grandmother who left Ireland so she would not have to be a nun as her family desired. After 14 years in Brooklyn he moved the family to a very small town in upstate NY in the Finger Lakes. Rock Stream became their forever home where he was able and resourceful enough to barter farm goods and take odd jobs to support a wife and 4 children. I remember him as a happy, kind and intelligent man.
My One House Project panel “Leaving Berlin: My Mother’s Immigrant Childhood” was completed and delivered on 9/17/17, which is my mother's 90th birthday. The images and text are based on my listening to her 1999 Oral HIstory from the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The best way to view the panel is to click on Tape 1 of Anita Sockol’s Oral HIstory from the Holocaust Museum https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn506713 to listen to Anita’s spoken words while viewing my interpretive Marking & Mapping™ of her unique story.
My ancestor, John Stack, the builder, as we call him, came to Baltimore in 1849 at 15 years old from Ireland during the potato famine. With nothing but a talent for carpentry he developed a successful thriving business as a builder and was responsible for the construction and renovation of many buildings in Baltimore that still exist today, including renovations to the Baltimore Basilica* (The first Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States). One story that exemplifies his determination and dedication to his work took place in 1871 during a particularly fierce fire threatening a large area of the city. John Stack with a group of others climbed to the roof of the Basilica, risking their lives to continually douse the structure with water and lay wet blankets to keep the flying embers from the surrounding fire from igniting the church. This is the image that prompted me to share his story. *Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
I admit to having felt conflicted about how to use the square to tell my experience of being an immigrant. I came to the US in 2002 as an au-pair planning to stay with a family for a year. Yet, that year turned into 15 years of an incredibly colorful life. As any immigrant, I had both moments of being truly accepted as a human being and of feeling excluded as the 'other' or sometimes viewed as the 'help'. While dealing with a bit of immigration paperwork, I went to college, held a variety of jobs, started my own company. I gained and lost friends. As I was pondering how to use my board to represent my story, it dawned on me that my story is no really 'just' mine. It's the story of all who touched my life in any and every way. So, I got to work. My board has two aspects. First, I browsed through 15 years of photos and picked moments that sometimes meant a lot and others that were just a quick passing experience. It feels like life is just like that: the big is mixed in with the little and vice versa. What an emotional experience! I saw so many faces, so many stories, in all of those photos. People who invited me into their lives; people who I literally have known since day one in the country. To honor their anonymity, I added a filter to all images as I assembled them into a collage. Some photos sit nicely next to each other; others clash. Some pop with color; others take your eye in as they are dark and you need to search for the silhouettes. One of the photos is the first photo taken of me in the US, another one of a former supervisor who gave me advice I use in my life daily. My parents, friends, kids I took care of, people I am not in touch anymore ... They are all part of my experience of establishing a life in the US. The second aspect of my square is sound. I am a big believer in the power of words. What one says matters and makes an impact. I recall many things said to me over the years. Some were words of inclusion and encouragement. Some stopped me in my tracks and their sharpness took my breath away. I recorded two words that are the title of my square: "Community. Connection." The sound wave recordings sit on top of the photos and bring together my experience as one of richness and gratitude.
Alexandra N. Sherman
My panel is about my paternal grandmother Goldie. My family isn't sure what her last name was, or what town she was originally from. She grew-up on the Russian/Polish border and was sent to Canada by her family to escape the Nazis. She was the only member of her immediate family to escape. She met my grandfather at the boarding house his family ran, and they married and entered the US illegally, something they later remedied. My grandparents ended up owning and operating The Dependable Watch Company, a small jewelry store across from the world trade center. The x's in my panel are based on a large cut crystal vase, which belonged to my grandmother, and now to me. The x's also represent the many members of my grandmother's family that weren't lucky enough to escape the Holocaust. The gold is a reference to her name and the jewelry store.
My panel is about someone who was a friend of my family before I was even born and who was like a grandmother or great aunt to me. It is a sort of political cartoon and reads, "Helene Walch (b. 1921) left Nazi Germany and immigrated to the segregated South of the United States. In Virginia, she sat in the back of the bus with my mother as a child, integrating buses before laws did."
My ancestors immigrated from Germany. Upon arriving here their name was changed from Rauch to Smoak. My great great great grandfather became known as the great patriarch of South Carolina because he had 123 descendants. A town, Smoak’s, SC, is named for my family.
My grandmother Minnie was born on May 1, 1892, in Lodz, which is now in Poland but at that time was a Russian territory. She told me that she only went to school for about a year as a child, and went to work in a textile mill at the age of 7. She and my grandfather Sidney immigrated to the United States in 1913. When my mother was twelve or so, my grandmother left my grandfather because he had a violent temper, especially when he was drunk, and cheated on her with other women. She worked as a washerwoman, a seamstress, and a milliner, to support herself and her only child, my mother. The hats in my panel are like the ones she would have made in the 1920s and 30s. When I was small, she lived in my parents' home, helping to take care of my sister and me. She liked to sing, to cook, and to laugh. Grandma Minnie died peacefully in her sleep on March 14, 1980, at the age of 88.
George Nicholas Späth. Born Dec 22nd, 1759, Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel (Now Germany). June 2nd 1777 – Invaded America as a Hessian mercenary. 1782 – Deserted, married Elizabeth Kale.1783 – Returned to service, captured, Immigrated, Anglicized name to “Spaid”. 1783 – 1819 Lived in Virginia (now W. Virginia).1819 – Moved to Ohio. Died, June 15th, 1833
The people in the images in the collage are of family members on my mothers side who came to USA from eastern Europe around 1911-15. My grandmother is in several of the photographs..as a small girl with her brother and with her family in front of their small businees in Philadelphia circa 1925-28.
My great great paternal grandfather came to the US from Prussia. He was born in 1839. Although, I don't know when he immigrated to the US I know he was a shoe maker and lived in Indiana.
My panel represents my mother's Norwegian family line and her Great Grandfather's immigration from Norway to the United States in 1901. Incorporated in the panel is a copy of his immigration papers and a sample of a postcard written to his beloved sister Isabel who he left behind. She looks out over the journey that would later become her own.
In 1872, my great-grandfather, age 18, immigrated- alone-to the U.S. Abraham Wilson Dods sailed from Scotland to New York, then made his way upstate to Fredonia, NY, where he boarded with a farm family. His photo was taken in 1875 on his graduation from undergraduate studies at Fredonia. He pursued advanced studies in medicine at Edinburgh U., Syracuse U., Hahneman Hospital Philadelphia, earning an MD in Surgery and a degree in Homeopathic Medicine. Dr. Dods practiced medicine, coached team sports at Fredonia, and developed the first athletics program at SUNY-Fredonia, where a building is named after him. Twice married and the father of a son -my grandfather- and a daughter, A Wilson’s interests were numerous: he took apart and redesigned a Winton automobile, and then published his work; in Algonquin Park Ontario, CA, Dr. Dods leased land on a remote lake, constructed cabins, made canoes, paddles, and furniture and served as the doctor for a girls camp. His great- grandchildren and offspring enjoy his legacy, going primitive every summer at the ‘camp’ he called ‘Loon Ledge’: to the tune of the loons, we cook on wood stoves or with propane (no electric, no running water), swim, canoe, read, make art, harvest blueberries, and hang out with friends.
This piece represents my two grandparents who emigrated from Italy. The statue of Liberty was the beacon for them. They felt that life could be good if they could get a good start and they found it so. My sisters and I went to visit their birthplace and could better understand their anxiety and wonder upon arriving here in the USA.
My panel showcases the story of my maternal grandparents. My grandmother's parents left Poland for the United States just before World War One. My grandfather came to the United States, from Poland, in 1930.
My grandmother Violet Wynne was born in 1890. When she was 13, her mother, Sarah (my great grandmother), remarried. Her new husband did not want children in the house. My grandmother was sent to the United States from what is now called Lithuania. Without any adult supervision, she traveled with another 13 year old girl first over land and then sea to the United States. Although sick when she arrived, she was let into the country (We believe in Boston, Massachusetts.) She had four older sisters already in the U.S. She lived with one of her older sisters but, as the story goes, her sister’s husband had his eye on her. She was sent to stay with other family members in Bangor, Maine. A native Yiddish speaker, she learned English and graduated from high school. She wanted more schooling and a life in medicine but circumstances did not allow it. She got married to Abraham Wallack, also an immigrant from Russia, and had three children, two sons and a daughter (my mother). When Sarah came alone to the United States, her daughter,Violet, took her in. Sarah lived until 1935.
Tina M. Tepe
My story gives a voice to those individuals who have no knowledge of their family history. It is a story of adoption. Even though I have been blessed with a loving parents, their ancestral story is not mine. How important is one’s family tree? I believe ancestral knowledge gives us a framework on which to build our identity- just like this framework in this One House Project where artists share some aspect of who they are. The title of my collage is Lone Wolf.
She is never alone in her HOUSE.... real or imaginary creatures, two-legged or four legged creatures are always with her...
Sometimes it is so crowded that she wishes they would all disappear.....
But this thought is ever so briefly because what would she do without them? She would just cease to exist and what does one do without one's existence?
My panel features my grandmother Alba Contreras from Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico, pictured in her quinceñera dress. While she was born as an American citizen in Puerto Rico, she nevertheless experienced life as an immigrant after moving to Texas to attend college on a scholarship. Included in the panel is the newspaper announcement, in Spanish, of her scholarship, and a photo caption from a Texas newspaper referring to her as one of a group of foreign students. When she attended college, part of her scholarship required that she and another student visit local grade schools to present songs from Puerto Rico. She was often excoticized when she presented these songs and so she and her friend began to sing funny lyrics in Spanish poking fun at the "gringos" which only the children who were Spanish speakers (in that area, mostly of Mexican descent) could understand. The children would laugh throughout their performance, knowing that their teachers did not know what was being said. I appreciate that she could provide some comical relief to others who felt isolated because their cultural background and language were not accepted. I featured collaged images including a door, reminiscent of the colonial ironwork doors in San Juan, lush foliage, and golden colors evoking a shoreline. The small amounts of gold reflect the gold that Christopher Columbus was seeking when he first arrived in Puerto Rico, and the start of the island's colonization and oppression under imperialism which has resulted in its current relationship with the United States and resulting economic hardships. The gold shell and depiction of the shoreline refer to a poem my grandmother wrote at the end of her life in which she pictured herself holding a stone on the shore, turning it over in her hand, and examining the life she would have had if she had stayed on the island. I chose to honor her in this panel for what she did to help other immigrants through her work as a social worker, the legacy she began (my mother, also born in Puerto Rico, works in social justice for immigrants), and for Puerto Rico and its people. I did not know at the time of its creation that it would become so clear in the media and in Trump's administration that Puerto Ricans are not treated or viewed as Americans. I expect many stories like Alba's are to come when so many are being forced from their home, su país, due to economic hardship, and now, lack of federal assistance to rebuild.
Karen Joan Topping
‘To Anchor’: to ‘tie down’; ‘to make fast and hold stable’. It is also used as a derogatory term for a child born in the U.S. who automatically becomes an American citizen under the 14th Amendment. Adopted as an Amendment in 1868, it gave freed slaves the right to vote. Birthright citizenship was added to the Constitution well before my maternal family arrived in the rush of industrial revolution immigration to the USA, but it played a role in my citizenship.
Documentation issues comes up more than once for my Polish ancestors in the past 100 years. Antonina (Antonia, Antoinette) Gurgacz, my maternal Great Grandmother came to the USA for the first time in 1904. I have no clue why Antonina came, but four years later she married John Miksiewicz in Elizabeth, NJ. Chester was their first child, probably born in 1909. Stanislawa (Stella) born 1911. Joe born 1913. Eddie born in 1914. Matylda (my Grandmother) born in 1915. Wladyslawa (Joan or Lottie) born 1917. All six children born in the USA, with no more than two years between them.
In 1918, after 14 years in the USA, Antonia and 5 surviving children return to the home of my Great Grandparents in Europe. There’s a lot of homey speculation on the part of my family as to why they go back, but most likely it’s because the USA issues the Travel Control Act of May 22, 1918 requiring passports in the wake of World War I and my Great Grandparents needed to procure passports from the newly created country of Poland to continue to live and work in the USA.
Antonina and the children stay in Poland for 8 years. My own grandmother’s birth certificate for her birth on November 30, 1915 is not issued by the City of Elizabeth, NJ until July 6, 1925, when she is almost 10 years old and less than 6 months before they all return to NY, NY again on a ship called the S.S. United States in early 1926. Antonina Miksiewicz gets on with life, a Polish person living in America until Poland is annexed by Nazi Germany in 1939.
On the eve of World War II the USA creates the Nationality Act of 1940. It codifies for the first time who is eligible for citizenship and why, who is not, and what will make you lose your citizenship. In 1941 birthright citizenship made a lot of Europeans into Americans. The act is passed a year after World War II starts in Europe, but before the USA enters the war. Antonina Miksiewicz receives her Certificate of Naturalization on November 25, 1941, less than two weeks before December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor is bombed and the USA enters formally into World War II. We like to think that life can be codified, but even with documentation life is more like a little paper boat. You must make your own anchors to hold onto, to keep from floating away in a sea of laws.
Susan Lippert Trapkin
This is the story of my grandfather. Upon his arrival in New York at age 19, he found a community of other German immigrants and was helped and mentored. He worked very hard and became an apprentice in wood working. He took classes, formed an interior decorating business on Long Island's "Gold Coast" and always wore a tie and business suit. He lived the American Dream and was a very proud American.
My grandfather, Joaquin E. Meyer, who was from the Republic of Cuba, enjoyed a career as a diplomat stationed in Washington DC during the late 1950’s, and up to the beginning of the Cuban Revolution lead by Fidel Castro. During the years before the revolution, my grandfather represented the Cuban sugarcane industry to the United States, which at the time was the largest in the world. During his diplomatic career, he opened many doors for the Republic of Cuba in Europe, and within the United States, leveraging enormous financial engagements for countless businesses on the island. After the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro started to reveal his true colors where his socialist views turned into a communist dictatorship. Just about every Cuban exiled in countries all around the world didn’t think Castro would last more than a year. Everyone was proven wrong… Castro outlasted most everyone. Once it became apparent to my grandparents that they were not going to return to Cuba, that their entire family had been uprooted (with some family members and friends held as political prisoners, or shot to death in front of Castro’s firing squads), and with all their belongings confiscated by the communist regime, they decided to become permanent citizens of the United States of America. They were first to do so in our family. As a consequence, I am the first of my generation born in this country - and I can’t thank this nation enough for opening it’s arms to not just my family, but to so many other Cuban families. The “key” in this painting represents my grandfather, and all the doors he opened during his career as a diplomat. The key also represents the island of Cuba on the horizon of the Caribbean Sea – always at a distance to all who were torn from that land. The palm trees represent the Royal Palm… national tree of Cuba… and a symbol of freedom. However, the palm trees in this painting double as a sort of prison bars… separating us from the island on the horizon… or perhaps it’s the opposite view… looking from the island out to what is the freedom that is “over there”…
Wm. h. Trovorrow, a young tin miner, immigrated from St. Ives, Cornwall in 1893, to Ishpeming, Michigan, where he became an iron ore miner, along its many of his countrymen. The spelling of his last name was changed to Trevarrow.
George Santayana wrote, "Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." My grandfather, Vincent Trnka, migrated to New York City, ca., 1914 from the City of Vienna which was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. He married American born Rose Vajda. Rose lost her U.S. Citizenship due to the Expatriation Act of 1907 which tried to discourage American women from marrying foreigners. This act was repealed in 1922 by the Married Women's Act. Rose still had to apply for US. citizenship. They raised a family of three boys.
Drew Feith Tye
Debra E. Tyler
My parents taught me to appreciate my freedom to love, live, forgive and when to let go. My personal worship cannot be suppress or subject to another man's mindset. I must understand that my FREEDOM was paid for with blood; both spiritually and physically by those who came before me. They did not allow oppression or skin color to stop the payment for freedom!! For all who have fought for freedom; our blood is spilled for a better life and its color is represented in United States of America flag and the land where i live. Made in the USA.
I came to the US when I was 3 years old. I have spent years learning that the strict, regulated culture my parents brought with them was not reality and that there is a universe of freedom and goodness in this country.
My family lived in DC as long as anyone, including my great-great grandparents, could remember. My grandmother would drive us by houses in Georgetown saying “So and so lived in this house,” “I was born in one of these row houses. I think it’s this one but the numbers have been changed.” My mother would say, “ I remember seeing M’s Mary wrapped in a blanket, rocking on this front porch.” When my grandmother dug into genealogy, she discovered two churches with records had been burned. Although the names were English, DC remained our point of origin. In paternal family lore, my paternal grandmother said there was a rumor about two brothers who came from Scotland- from/near a castle, through Canada and down to Rockbridge County, Virginia. My grandfather’s mother’s family name was Entsminger. My paternal grandparents moved to Pittsburgh for work during the Depression and then to Washington, DC.
Inspired by the One House project, I went to the high seas of Internet genealogy to look for New World departures. Six generations back I found birthdates for one of the mythological Coutts brothers and his wife in Scotland. They died in Ontario. Their son and his wife, both born in Canada, went to Virginia. This wife’s parents, in the seventh generation back, were born in Ireland and England. Also in the seventh generation is a couple that died in Virginia but the wife was born in Germany and the husband in Switzerland. Eight generations back, there is a wife born in the Zweibrucken Palintinate, Germany and her husband was born in Alsace, France. Pennsylvania records show his father and German born mother (both born in 1705,) living in Pennsylvania when it was a British Colony. I was surprised-besides Virginians and Washingtonians, there are Canadian, German, Irish, English and Swiss ancestors. On my mother’s side, but for one recorded 1843 birth in England in the sixth generation and burned church records, our point of origin remains ab ovo Washington, D.C., where my parents met as teenagers, roller-skating and looking forward to every new day.
Jo Ellen Walker
My great great grandfather, John McMurray was born in Belfast Ireland in 1826. He immigrated to the United States during the potato famine (1845-1852). He settled in a small town in Illinois and was a farmer. My great grandfather, James Robert McMurray, became a physician, and settled in Illinois as well, where he delivered many babies for free. My grand mother, Alice Pauline McMurray raised three children in Illinois. She was a wonderful mother and loved to bake.
As a child, Sophia Gemilich was brought to the US by her father and stepmother from a small village in Germany. My great great grandmother was first married to another German immigrant in Lower Manhattan, who died within 10 years. Her second husband, also a naturalized German, and she spent the next 20 years in a part of the Lower East side known as Kleindeutschland (Little Germany). It was among the largest concentrations of Germans in the world at the time. Sophia and her family later became more assimilated and lived in other more cross cultural areas of New York, as was the pattern for other groups of immigrants to America, even today.
I represented two stories. One of lore surrounding my great great grandmother Sarah Fitzallen Deering Dickey. I have grown up with rumors and stories that she was the daughter of a Cherokee Chief. However, as research has been done, it is a loose tie by common names on the rolls with no actual direct link. With each new telling of her history, she gets farther and farther away from the native heritage she had. It may forever remain a mystery. Regardless, on the tin-type that my family has, the name Mama is scrawled at the top. The second story I chose, was that of Peter Montague Jr., who a arrived in Jamestown, Va on the sailing ship "Charles" in 1621. The copy text on the panel is from his grave marker. Peter Montague Sr., is said to have been descended from King Edward the First of England and further back, William the Conquerer. Peter Montague Sr., is an "accredited James Town ancestor" with the Jamestowne Society. ( This was a revelation to find out, as it was also storied that our family came over in the great migrations from Scotland in Ireland. (http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=otime&id=I00539&op=GET)
My father's story was like so many others who came to this country. Working on the panel brought a personal awareness of all the hardships yet hope the family experienced coming to this country. I am so grateful.
My grandfather, Abraham Miller, came to this country from Romania in the early years of the 20th century. He bought a building in downtown Philadelphia to accommodate his wholesale china business. The building was in the historic part of Philadelphia, around the corner from Betsy Ross's house, but the whole area was pretty shabby in those days. It had two rough stone basements, one below the other, with a big lazy Susan running up to the main floor, perfect for his inventory. Abraham and my grandmother, Fanny, raised 5 children and gave shelter to many new immigrants between the wars. They called them the Greenies, which I thought was the name of some huge extended family until I learned years later that "greenie" was short for greenhorn. When my grandfather died in the 1960's, my family invited the Philadelphia Historical Society to view the building and they determined that it had been a stop on the Underground Railroad in the time before the Civil War. Many runaway slaves had come through those basements. I think that is a perfect American story.
My panel was made in honor of my great grandparents, Lelia and Joel Rice, who made a life on their farm in Virginia. The image is of them on their farm and the border represents the handmade crazy quilts sewn by my great grandmother from the leftover fabric of all the clothing she made for family members. Their lives spoke of a deep strength married with kindness.
Richly complex my heritage has awarded me a rich beautiful life.
In creating this piece I wanted to pay tribute to my ancestor Mary Chilton, who, as a teen, arrived on the Mayflower with her parents, who died soon after. Legend has it she was the first female to set foot ashore, "leaping" off one of the small boats carrying the pilgrims from the Mayflower to Plymouth Rock. I believe her story is best told through words rather than pictures. I screen-printed her "story" on handmade paper which reflects the can-do spirit of the American immigrant. The pale blue paper underneath conveys the sky she must have seen on her voyage. The top layer of paper is dyed from tea, and is meant to convey history and longevity. In emphasizing Mary's "refugee" status, I chose to draw a parallel between the immigrants of old and those who have come recently. The majority contribute mightily to this nation's well-being and are deserving of respect and dignity.
My immigrant great-grandfather Marotske. Both of my father’s grandfathers came to America from small towns in Prussia, then part of Germany, now in Poland. I learned about Gustave Marotske’s life for this project even though, if my father had not been adopted by his mother’s parents, I would have had his last name. He was the 11th child in his family in a tiny town of 300, and may not have had any schooling. German was always his first language. Landing in New York in 1884, he settled in St. Paul, Minnesota and soon married. Sadly, he and his wife outlived all but 2 of the 8 children born to them and even the granddaughter they raised. He worked as a laborer in a quarry and towards the end of his life as a grave digger in the cemetery where he himself would be buried. He and his family lived in the house he purchased early on. His story seems very similar to that of the many immigrants today who work hard at physically demanding jobs to provide homes for their families.
I chose to create a portrait of my father's mother, Esther Steiner, (1890-1956). She immigrated to the US from Lodz, Poland. Arrived in Locust Point, Baltimore, 1901. She rolled cigars for a living. She raised nine children including a set of twins, my father was a twin. She died before I was born. My parents gave me her name as my middle name. Growing up, I learned of the hardship and difficulty she faced including abuse in the family.
My mother, Lisa Clare Karin "Peppi" Baingo Wilson, was the first person on her side of the Baingo family to arrive in America. Coming from Berlin, Germany, via The Banana Core, in August 1964, she was pregnant with my brother Patrick and had 17 month old me and her collie in tow,on her way to a new life with my father, Nicholas Brown Wilson in Columbus, Georgia., She had shown me photos of this particular scene and described it to me on numerous occasions. When I decided to create this image with wool, using needle felting techniques, she was unable to locate the original photo. This panel is done mostly from my memories. The photo had an almost painterly quality to it, so I knew recreating it in a wool painting would evoke the same feeling.
In 1905 my Slovakian grandfather disembarked from a ship hailing from Bremen, Germany on this spot in Baltimore’s harbor. He immediately boarded a train to Pittsburgh where he lived for a time on Mulberry Street and worked on the railroad. The script is his name as inscribed on the ship’s manifest. The stitching represents the stories my father told me about my grandfathers skill at mending his clothes.
This is my father's journey from Damascus, Syria and Lebanon to America in 1946