Immigration issues of past, present confronted through art

By Abigail Keefe
November 18, 2005

What does it mean to be an American? This was just one of many questions relating to immigration that was discussed at the lecture “Immigration through the Artist Interpretation.” This presentation demonstrated how the Lower East Side Tenement Museum through its exhibits raises issues about immigration in the past and present. Museum patrons do not merely get to experience a historical site or learn about the past history of immigration, but they discuss real issues that still confront immigrants today.

The presentation was hosted by two members of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Alex Narvaez and Lokki R. Chan. The session began with a video clip about a family that emigrated from Puerto Rico in the early 1900’s. The story of the Rivera family and their struggle with adapting to American life was the perfect lead in to the rest of the lecture.

Most immigrants face a constant struggle between trying to maintain pieces of their own personal culture and way of life, while also trying to assimilate themselves into American culture. The Rivera family faced enormous pressure to adapt American language and culture. Today immigrants do not face the same kind of pressure the Rivera family did but they still face many issues that make life in America very difficult.

The exhibits at the museum are created from a number of sources and are designed to invoke discussion and critical thinking in the observer. “It depends totally on the interaction between the presenter and the audience.” Lokki Chan said.

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Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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