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Focus On Opening: ImmiGreat: Immigrants Enrich American Communities

Updated: Feb 7, 2019

The launch party for LegalEase, a joint venture for immigration attorneys Angela Antonia Torregoza and Amir Rasoulpour, was an art opening called ImmiGreat: Immigrants Enrich American Communities at The Local NYC in Long Island City. The show features artworks celebrating the positive contributions immigrants make in culture and communities in this country. The show is curated by Mai Kikuchi-Torregoza and Hannah McHale. It opened on January 19 and runs until the end of the month.


Dhanashree Gadiyar, originally from India and living and working in NYC, identifies as a storyteller. Paper, gold leaf, and cut-out quotations borrowed from interviews she conducts exploring immigrants' experiences are common materials that she uses. Working with individuals, she explores and shares personal and intimate insights into the experiences of her subjects. What emerges are universal and identifiable themes that speak to a wide audience such as hopes, fears, and the feelings of alienation and loneliness when coming to a new country.


Untitled, a two-panel work photographed below likewise follows this investigation. It differs from past projects, however, in that she composes an actual portrait of her subject along with her more traditional use of text and symbols.


Untitled, detail artwork by Dhanashree Gadiyar

Photo courtesy of Sarah Goodchild Robb



Untitled, detail artwork by Dhanashree Gadiyar

Photo courtesy of Sarah Goodchild Robb


Another artist with affecting work is David Sastre, a NYC-based photographer originally from Colombia.




Displaced (Bogota, Colombia), 2012, artwork by David Sastre

photo courtesy of Sarah Goodchild Robb


A theme Sastre works with is the relationship between his subjects and the circumstances under which they work. In Displaced (Bogotá, Colombia) 2012, the portrait of the young indigenous boys bears a fleeting and quiet witness to contemporary life in Bogotá. The portrait of them is juxtaposed against their locally-produced and commodified jewelry goods. This image is contextualized by the impact of the armed conflict in Colombia on its citizens and, in this case, young people.


A diptych by Raphael "Zurbaran 1" Gonzalez shows two photographs printed on canvas of a mural in Brooklyn of the Statue of Liberty painted by German graffiti artist Sokar uno in 2016. While Mother of Exile 1 is printed in color, Mother of Exile 2 is rendered in black and white.



Mother of Exile 1, artwork by Raphael "Zurbaran1" Gonzalez

Photo courtesy of Sarah Goodchild Robb



Mother of Exile 2, artwork by Raphael "Zurbaran1" Gonzalez

Photo courtesy of Sarah Goodchild Robb

Gonzalez has connected the image of Sokar uno's Lady Liberty to current day issues connected with DACA, the travel ban, and xenophobia exacerbated by the current political climate. In red with what appears to be by the artist's hand, he paints in his own "graffiti" into the photo, revealing the sort of destructive messages being generated today.


This show, sponsored by LegalEase, is an interesting example of how businesses and artists can establish partnerships to support cultural events that bring people together from different communities. Immigration has an impact in many spheres, from legal to artistic, personal to political. An event like this demonstrates the kind of cross-pollination that has the potential to generate new kinds of supportive and celebratory environments.


Participating artists included Corky Lee, Marco Chin Illustration and Art, ASVP Art, Jayne Lies, Raphael "Zurbaran1" Gonzalez Photography, Dan Alvarado Artwork, Dhanashree Gadiyar, Erlin A. Geffrard, Jo Di Bona, Edward Acosta, Bust the Drip, Superstop and David Sastre.



#ImmiGreat #LegalEase #TheLocalNYC #LongIslandCity #artopening

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