Common Threads: 7 Sanctuary
Common Threads 7: Sanctuary tells a story of immigrant artists who chose to become American citizens. It is a celebration of the rich tapestry of immigration and the American narrative.
“Home is sanctuary. It is shelter/protection/asylum. Hogar. It’s a safe haven, a refuge from noise and chaos. It’s where we gather our family and raise our children. In tin, adobe or wood, it’s a sacred space where we keep our innermost self, our lives, and our memories.”
Bensliman grew up in Tunisia, North Africa. Tunisia is at a crossroad of eastern and ancient art and cultures on one hand and western more contemporary art on the other.
Moving to the US was an eye opening experience for Bensliman. She was impressed with the grandeur of everything. She was exposed to many different cultures. As she was able to learn about those cultures, she was able to share her’s as well. She realized that the US is truly a land of opportunity if you work hard and if you have a drive, you can accomplish anything.
"I was born and raised in the West Indies on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. My father was a Chinese immigrant who fled to the West Indies during the communist revolution at the age of 14. I reluctantly immigrated to the U.S. to pursue a career in the arts because there was no college level art education available on the islands. Almost three decades later I'm still here, rooted in this life I call home."
Amy Louise Lee
“I was born and raised in Northern England and moved to the US with my immediate family when I was in my late teens. My parents motivating factor for us moving here was to provide us with better opportunities. The UK during that time was not filled with much hope for growth, so they took a chance and it paid off for us all.”
“Originally from Mexico, I came to this country 32 years ago.
For me, the USA represented the opportunity to expand my career as an Architect and a place to raise my family.
Having had the opportunity to practice my profession has made a big difference in my life here in the USA, making it easier to deal with the cultural differences and being away from my family.
However; the current political environment and the results of the last election have profoundly changed my perceptions, and comfort level in this country, making me self-conscious and unwelcome, which was something I never felt until recently. “
Daniela was born in the former Czechoslovakia, now Czech Republic. Her artistic expression was restricted by the communist regime as was her need for learning. She immigrated to the the United states 25 years ago in hopes of artistic freedom and unlimited opportunity to learn. Her primary medium is oil however she became obsessed with her latest endeavor- ink on mixed media.
“I am originally from India and grew up in the northern state of Rajasthan in India. My husband being part of the Indian IT / Technology Expat community, we have had a fairly nomadic life living in different parts of India then moving to Canada and finally New Jersey. It has now been more than 9 years in the Central Jersey area and it is the fusion of multiple cultures and openness of the community (especially the art community) to welcome outsiders like me with open arms that has enabled us to stick around and call this place our home.”
Brigitte A. Calderon
“I was born and raised in Morocco and have lived in the US for 35 years. I've wanted to move here since I was nine and my father, who worked at the US Embassy in Rabat, Morocco, took me to a Fourth of July party at the Ambassador's residence. A large American flag was floating high up above the roof. I was transfixed. Back then, I remember wishing I could wrap myself into its folds and fly away. It represented freedom and new beginnings. Forty years later, I was pledging allegiance to it.”
“I was born and raised in Medellin, Colombia. I came to the USA in 2000 to study English as a Second Language at Temple University. I returned to Colombia and in 2002 I came back to pursue my MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago after I was accepted and granted a full scholarship and I have been in the USA ever since. The US has become my home, I fell in love here, married had two kids and after I had my kids my roots have been growing in this land, a land of opportunities and hope.”
Abbas Wiswall (23) born in Bangladesh and raised in Trenton, NJ