Considering that our perpetually divisive President has just spitefully ramped up his efforts to build a divide between the U.S. and our ally Mexico – now proposing a military-based stopgap until his wall can or can’t be built – it is more imperative than ever to be reminded of just what immigration has brought to our country and our cities all these years.
And so it is that the East Village’s venerated City Lore Gallery will open this Friday, April 6, an exhibition titled What We Bring: New Immigrant Gifts – which focuses on the artistic ideas and treasures that immigrants continually contribute to New York City’s rich cultural fabric. For purposes of this show, these include Indian classical dancer Malini Srinivasan’ distinctive ankle bells; Peruvian drummer Hector Morales’ cajón; and Afghani poet Sahar Muradi’s Hafiz’s Book of Poetry and Prognostication, amongst others.
“Immigration defines the United States,” says the gallery’s founding director Steve Zeitlin (who co-curated with ethnomusicologist Tom Van Buren), “and our aim through this exhibition is to contribute to the national dialogue on immigration. So often the focus is on economics. Our focus here is on the remarkable cultural contributions of New York City’s community-based artists – first generation or children of immigrants – who embody the ‘gift’ they’ve brought to America.”
The exhibition is funded by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and will run through September 16 at City Lore. Plans are to then take it to each of NYC’s four other boroughs following that.