Remaking the Monument: Immigrant Stories at Bush House Museum
“We cannot change the past, but we must acknowledge that powerful forces within society fostered persistent barriers for people of color to migrate and create their homes here in Oregon. In spite of all this, we came anyway. These are our stories.” -Sankar Raman, Founder of The Immigrant Story
The Immigrant Story (TIS) and Jim Lommasson are honored to be invited by the Salem Art Associaton and Bush House Museum to present a historic exhibition, Remaking the Monument: Immigrant Stories at Bush House Museum. Curated by Jen Richardson-Greene, the exhibition will be on display at the Bush House Museum, 600 Mission St, SE, Salem, OR 97302, through October 31. The Bush House Museum is one of Oregon’s oldest surviving pioneer farmsteads. It was built on the ancestral lands of Kalapuya tribe by Asahel Bush, a businessman and a founding editor of The Oregon Statesman newspaper. Bush was among the early Oregon settlers who campaigned to exclude free Blacks from entering Oregon. The infamous exclusion provision he campaigned for remained in the Oregon Constitution.
Remaking the Monument: Immigrant Stories at Bush House Museum includes portraits, stories, and treasured objects belonging to immigrants and refugees to a place that is a symbol of policies created to exclude people of color from entering the state. It brings new meaning to rooms haunted by the racist rhetoric and actions of Bush and his advocates.
Jen Richardson-Greene has curated images from The Immigrant Story exhibitions DREAMS Deferred, I Am My Story, To Bear Witness and I Am An American, and added new images to create this show. These portraits and objects are artistically and intentionally placed to occupy the spaces within the house. This compelling exhibition reminds us that, despite the restrictions, these new Oregonians came, thrived and made homes here.
© Sankar Raman, Emmanuel Turaturanye
Remaking the Monument honors the extraordinary lives of immigrants and refugees living in Oregon today. They hold our gaze with strength and compassion. They occupy spaces where difference was not allowed, where racism was fierce, and where abolitionists were disparaged. Their possessions challenge the notion of historical preservation. Their stories rouse our deepest stirrings of the American Dream, as they recount surviving war, genocide, incarceration, discrimination, and threats of deportation. These Oregonians inspire us by surviving the unspeakable, healing lineages, enriching our cultural tapestries, leading communities, and breaking glass ceilings.
SANKAR RAMAN is the Founder and current board president of The Immigrant Story, a non-profit dedicated to the recording of immigrant histories through photography, interviews, journalism, recordings, exhibitions, podcasts, and live story-telling events. These historical testimonies offer
an important means of connection by creating empathy and understanding across cultural barriers. In this way, The Immigrant Story offers a platform for documenting and sharing oral and cultural histories and healing personal trauma.
JIM LOMMASSON is a freelance photographer and author living in Portland, Oregon; next to each of The Immigrant Story portraits are his photographs of objects that are part of a larger series by Lommasson called What We Carried. These photographs of objects, memorabilia, culture, family, journey, loss, and identity are inscribed by each participant. lommassonpictures.com
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