F&M Stories

Students, Professor Curate Art Exhibit on Migration to Lancaster

An exhibit of testimonies and artists, curated by a Franklin & Marshall professor and his students, reflects the struggle, promise and hope of migrants in the designated "Welcoming City" of Lancaster.

"It was incredible to hear firsthand people's remarkable, fascinating, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories of their journeys and creating new lives in the United States," said senior environmental studies major Michele Jacobs.

Jacobs and sophomore history major Ashley Maldonado Neyra collaborated on "Welcoming City: Voices of (Un)settlement in Lancaster" with Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Eric Hirsch, co-curator with research partner, Amer Al-Fayadh, CEO of Communications Essentials.

In two galleries of the Susan & Ben Winter Visual Arts Center, the exhibit includes works by local artists—Kurdish Syrian writer and poet Majda Dari, Cuban American mixed media artist Claudia Rojas, and Russian painter Svetlana Koval. They will speak as a panel at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17.

Spread across the floor, the exhibit includes quote-tiles, with the quotes taken from several years of student interviews of refugees and immigrants who came to Lancaster. In 2019, the city was certified as welcoming of migrants by a Georgia-based nonprofit, Welcoming America.

The students also contributed to the exhibit. Neyra assembled a series of doors— symbolizing the starting and ending of a journey — and a welcome mat.

"The doors and the welcome mat were Ashley's idea for displaying some of the different dimensions of welcome," Hirsch said.

Jacobs, who did some of the interviews that produced the quotes, displays a series of photos she took of migrants.

"My hope is that showing people's reasons for coming, their struggles, and resiliency will foster greater acceptance of foreigners in a world where many feel threatened by and are hostile to newcomers," she said.

The exhibit, which runs until Feb. 19, is an F&M Environmental Migration Lab project, supported by the College's Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster.

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