Connecting Immigrant and Local Communities Through Story Cloths and Conversations
Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to a significant-and growing-number of immigrants. Although the city is proudly a Sanctuary City, their immigrants’ stories are seldom seen and heard by the general public. We have witnessed how powerful Holocaust survivor Esther Nisenthal Krinitz’ art and Esther’s story has been in helping us understand the consequences of prejudice and xenophobia. With this in mind, we created Stitching Our Stories.
Produced by Art and Remembrance in collaboration with Ripple Catalyst Studio, Stitching Our Stories was a collection of artistic threads–an exhibition, story cloth workshops, and a public evening of dialogue.
EXHIBIT: At the center was an exhibit of photographic images of Esther’s tapestries along with story cloths created by local Santa Fe immigrants who were inspired by Esther’s art and story.
The visual testimonies of Esther’s survival and present day immigrants’ journeys, along with their first-person stories, served as catalysts for meaningful engagement and understanding between immigrant and other local residents. The exhibit ran from September 1st to October 20th in 2016, with over 1500 people (including youth from various local schools) visiting the exhibit at the beautiful Santa Fe Arts Commission’s Community Gallery in downtown Santa Fe.
HEART & STORY WORKSHOPS: Over the summer of 2016, Art and Remembrance hosted a series of HeART and Story workshops in Santa Fe with adult and youth immigrants who are served by various local organizations and faith groups, including Santa Fe Community College, Mujeres Adelante Cooperative, and Nuestra Jornada at Gerard’s House. During the workshops, the participants viewed the documentary film, Through The Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, engaged in group conversation and made their own story cloths. These story cloths were exhibited along with Esther’s artwork and can be seen in our Stitching Our Stories gallery.
COMMUNITY CONVERSATION: On Wednesday, September 21, 2016, World Peace Day, and in conjunction with National Welcoming Week we invited immigrants and other local residents to participate in small group conversations. Participants included immigrants who had attended the HeART and Story workshops and other local residents from Santa Fe and the Northern New Mexico community.
The response was extraordinary. Immigrants remarked on the atmosphere of inclusion and how they felt truly welcomed for the first time. Others pledged to continue the dialogue, recognizing how vital it is to the community. In these troubled times, it was a balm to overcome our trepidation towards the “other” and create true community.
Exhibit space provided with the generous support of the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission.