The Storytelling Projects

Your Neighbor's Story: Lives of New Americans

Refugee. Immigrant. Foreigner. These words flatten human experience and create distance between us. Personal stories, on the other hand, connect us. Finding or losing love, rebelling against a teacher, having a child, fulfilling a dream, fleeing a war. Be it despair or celebration, we share. We identify. We belong.

At the intersection of art and activism, Your Neighbor’s Story sees community as the wellspring of change. It braids visual art created by artists with powerful narratives of men and women often forced to choose between remaining in the homes they know and love, or saving their families.

This project, foreshadowed with a pilot completed in Lebanon in 2014, was more than a year in the making. It took on a sense of urgency as our country dove into a debate over immigration policies. Your Neighbor’s Story is intended to spark conversations, including between those with differing views. Dialogue has never been more important.

The artists joined both documented and undocumented new Americans and novelist/journalist Masha Hamilton for lengthy interviews. They then created unique pieces that capture memories, bits that might otherwise be lost. Curated by Maya Fell, the project’s hope is to help erode stereotypes, overcome divisiveness and create not only understanding but friendships.

For 2020 exhibition sites and more stories, please visit our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Jacqueline M. Sofia. Logo credit: Lindsay Bolin Lowery.

 

Drawing on their Lives

While working for Concern Worldwide, Masha recruited Lebanese artist Hanane Kai to accompany her on meetings with Syrian women refugees living in northern Lebanon, and draw pieces of their lives as they told their stories. Over many hours, the women cried together and laughed together. These stories and pictures emerged. The stories and drawings were also exhibited at the Beirut Book Festival.

VIEW THE DRAWINGS & STORIES
 

Gender Roles in Flux

Masha also spoke to men about the changes in their lives due to the crisis, and began to examine how those individual changes are impacting the fabric of society. She is pursuing a project to examine an ongoing upheaval and transformation of traditional gender roles due to the Syrian crisis, exploring those roles through in-depth interviews with refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, coupled a with additional renderings from regional artists.

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  • Website design by: Rose Daniels Design
  • Photos by Heidi Levine, Briana Orr and Masha Hamilton (unless otherwise noted)