I was standing in Kitty Bancroft’s studio several years ago when I saw the first of her portraits of Ellis Island immigrants, interpreted from old black and white photographs. It was the eyes that got me, the piercing stares.
Then this spring, when I attended her “Ellis Island Series” exhibit and saw the images all together, I knew I had to do something with them – give them voice in some way – particularly given the current world crisis developing around Syrian refugees. Fortunately, Kitty was more than open to this idea; she was very enthusiastic.
I wonder what image comes to mind for you when you hear the word: “immigrant.” You can see these stunning portraits and hear what others said in response to this prompt.
Visit Kitty’s website to learn more about this ambitious project.
Photo: Catherine Bancroft
Refatun Momo, who emigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh at age 16, is known to her friends as Momo. They also know her as a young woman of tremendous strength and fortitude. You might call it “grit.” That’s what Fran Melmed and others on the JMB Award committee call it. They presented Momo with their annual award at West Philadelphia High School in early June. Listen to Momo’s story to find out why.
Music: Pianochocolate, “Promenade”
Photos: BDundon; Conrad Benner, www.StreetsDept.com
Barbara recently interviewed Chestnut Hill resident Lyn Buchheit about her work with refugees at Community College of Philadelphia. As a teacher of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), Buchheit forms relationships with students from around the world. Most are refugees who have obtained asylum in the U.S.
Particularly interesting to Barbara was the story of a family in South Philadelphia, a mother and her four children, who spent three years in a refugee camp outside of New Delhi.
Newsworks, WHYY’s on-line news portal, was interested in the story and posted it to their website in mid-March. You can read it here and hear part of the interview, as well.
Cin Lun, 25, lives and works in the heart of South Philadelphia’s Burmese community. She is also a student at Community College of Philadelphia. In this portrait she tells the story of her family’s journey to America.