Sara Friedlander and Jane Gregorius
The art work of Sara Friedlander and Jane Gregorius addresses the current and historic issues of migration and displacement. What does it mean to belong, and who controls who stays?
Each artist brings their wise and thoughtful hand to their art. Read what they have to say.
Birds of im/Migration by Sara Friedlander
I have created these visual narratives to honor the courageous women, who left their homeland and their families, often under great duress and traveled to America to start a new life. Most of them spoke no English; and holding steadfast to their hopes for a brighter future, faced daunting challenges in order to establish themselves in this new world.
I began with photographs of my maternal grandmother, born Masha Bornstein, who in 1908 at the age of 15 left her family behind in Petrikov, Belarus (background image) and traveled alone in steerage to Boston. She soon made her way to Providence, Rhode Island to begin anew. She was an accomplished seamstress who designed and made all the clothes in the photographs you see of her. Warmth and integrity emanate from her face. I’m told that she worked in and then ran a small sewing shop. And after marrying, she and my grandfather sent for her mother and three siblings to join them. She died before I was two and by creating this piece, I feel more connected to her life and my own history.
At this critical time, immigration is seen as a national and global threat throughout the world. These portraits can help us remember and reflect deeply on the reality that most Americans, most of us, are relatively recent descendants of or immigrants ourselves.
Artist statement by Jane Gregorius
Even the noun “immigration” has started to fill me with sadness. It used to stand for adventure, for courage, for the will to survive, the right to a choice. With politicians trying to capitalize on xenophobia, the word has become a two-part description as in “illegal-immigrant,” and it is often said that “that person is illegal.” Really, an illegal person?
I can’t imagine the poverty and squalor, the fear, the political terrors, the life of the persecuted that force populations to escape from the mother country. One of my pieces visually describes the wall and the border patrol who keep an eye on it, another describes the home that was left behind and another the homeless and anonymous wanderer without roots and home land.