“This project,” shares Valdez, “is to show that this nation is made mostly by immigrants, and for us to feel proud of where we come from and to celebrate the diversity that makes this country great. Immigration Nation is a vehicle for immigrants to share their individual journeys using suitcases. Each suitcase will be transformed into a work of art that celebrates individual stories and represents a collective American experience.”
Over the past several months Valdez held workshops where community members, young and old, were invited to create their own suitcase, showing his/her own immigration story. Workshops were held at Urbano Project, Boston Evening Academy in Roxbury, The Woods Mullen Homeless Shelter in Dorchester, The Fenway High School, her own studio, and throughout Egleston Square. Suitcases were painted on, some on the outside some also on the inside, and showcase words, maps, patches, flags, and other graphics. Further, participants were encouraged to interview family members, use travel documents, and assemble the story of his/her family’s journey to America.
Valdez worked with dozens of first and second generation immigrants from countries including The Dominican Republic, Vietnam, China, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, Poland, Palestine, Germany, Iran, Colombia, India, Jamaica, Trinidad, Venezuela, Chile, Honduras, El Salvador, Argentina, Greece, France, Spain, Brazil, Cuba, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico, England, Peru, Bolivia and Israel.
Immigration Nation will be on view at the Urbano Project located at 29 Germania Street in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, May 24 through July 30, 2017. The opening reception, free and open to the public, takes place Wednesday, May 24, 2017 from 6-8 PM.