Within the northeast African nation of Eritrea, having espresso is way more elaborate than simply ordering a drink from Starbucks.
Hieldana Weldu, a Harrisonburg Excessive Faculty pupil who got here to the US in 2014 after spending a while in Ethiopia, is from Eritrea, and mentioned the each day apply of ingesting espresso is a course of that may take hours.
“It’s an enormous deal,” Weldu mentioned. “It’s totally different than American espresso. My mother doesn’t like Starbucks.”
That’s why Weldu overlaid an image of an Eritrean espresso set from her present house in Harrisonburg onto a photograph that she took of James Madison College’s campus. The composite art work represents the totally different layers and locations that make up her private id that she shares with the general public in an exhibit at Smith Home Galleries known as Right here + There: Exploring Multi-Layered Identification By way of Images.
The exhibit options composite images from seven native college students with refugee backgrounds. The composites are constructed from two photos: one is meant to symbolize life in Harrisonburg and the opposite heritage or a life in one other place.
Roughly 15 college students from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Uganda, Iraq, Myanmar and different nations participated in a seven-session pictures workshop at James Madison College, taught by Elisabeth Kvernen, assistant professor within the Faculty of Media Arts and Design.
The workshop was supported by Church World Service Harrisonburg, SMAD, JMU’s Institute for Artistic Inquiry and the JMU School Senate. It culminated with the gallery present that a few of the college students from the workshop opted to create works for.
Kvernen mentioned she grew up touring the world and continued to stay in numerous nations as an grownup. She mentioned she’s lived in Ethiopia, Nepal, India, Syria and Vietnam. Kvernen used pictures to grasp her personal multi-layered id after transferring to Harrisonburg from Vietnam in 2020, posting composite photos of locations in Vietnam and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“I feel it’s a approach of processing my experiences,” Kvernen mentioned. “I feel there generally is a approach through which you simply compartmentalize — ‘that was then and that is now’ and so they’re totally different worlds. And I grew up like that, transferring quite a bit, and also you tended to maintain them separate, and these [composite photographs] are very built-in. So, visually, it’s overlaying it and it’s type of providing you with an entire new perspective. It’s a approach of processing, it’s been good for me.”
Kvernen acquired a mini grant from the JMU School Senate and acquired help from the Institute for Artistic Inquiry. Church World Service of Harrisonburg linked Kvernen with college students concerned within the Mentoring Youth in Virginia program that connects younger folks with refugee backgrounds with adults they’ll relate to and obtain steering from.
“We now have a number of initiatives happening however that is the primary artwork mission that we’ve completed shortly,” mentioned Rebecca Spraig, CWS Harrisonburg youth and employment program coordinator. “Elizabeth approached us and had this nice thought for providing an after-school program for youths with refugee backgrounds. [Kvernen] taught all of the courses and I made certain the youngsters had rides to and from.”
Spraig mentioned she works as a bridge to attach applications like Kvernen’s with present after-school applications in the neighborhood.
“So, [for example], what we’re doing with the [JMU] laptop science division is having a enjoyable summer season week intensive program to say that is laptop programming and we do this yearly. And as soon as [the high schoolers] know that’s what laptop programming is, we are saying there are electives in the highschool, there’s an after-school program with On The Street Collaborative,” Spraig mentioned. “So it’s saying, that is what it’s, so as to get good at it it’s a must to apply usually. A part of what we’re attempting to do is get folks snug [playing] with totally different applications.”
Daniel Robinson, director of ICI, supported the mission and located the gallery slot for it after an analogous mission with photographer Wendy Ewald needed to be pushed again. He shared the position CWS performed in each initiatives.
“For [the Ewald] mission, [CWS has] a really robust sense of the wants of the individuals who come by means of their workplace, and me personally, I don’t,” Robinson mentioned. “My abilities are in pictures and artwork making and never the type of social work that occurs to resettle somebody that’s going by means of a really tough time of their life. They had been very clear about methods [to help] that might work and ways in which won’t work.”
College students in Kvernen’s workshop took photos on campus at JMU and realized to make use of easy photo-editing software program to overlay totally different photos. For the scholars that opted for the gallery present, Kvernen visited their houses and helped them assume out the which means behind the photographs of their work.
“It appeared like a pure match [for the gallery slot],” Robinson mentioned. “It additionally had related themes not about let’s go take photos of refugees and present folks, however let’s work with the precise people … to precise themselves and use our place of privilege in no matter approach … to get these voices to extra folks.”