(La Historia Detrás)
Born in Lima, Peru, I’m an immigrant who has been living in New York for almost twenty years. Even during my first days here, despite the newness of the culture, the large scale and crowded streets, I felt somehow I had found my true home.
My father, the son of immigrants from the Canton region of China, was born in a town north of Lima, the capital of Peru; and my mother was descended from indigenous Peruvian people from the Andes. When the two met as neighbors in El Rimac, an impoverished colonial neighborhood nearby, they had embarked on their respective paths to their future professions, my father as a teacher of technical trades and my mother as an obstetrician.
Growing up in Lima as a child of two cultures, neither fully Chinese nor fully Peruvian , I coped how best I could with the challenges of otherness. Throughout my schooling and the launching of my career there, I pursued my calling as an artist and designer.
Ultimately, my professional work and personal quest brought me to New York City. On reaching “the ultimate city of immigrants,” where nearly 40 percent of the residents are foreign born, I immediately sensed I had found a place where I belong. Like so many before me, I’ve taken up the mantle to help shape a better future for all of us immigrants, those whose families moved here generations ago as well as those arriving tomorrow. It is in this spirit of appreciation and determination that I have initiated the REIMAGINING project.
Chris Yong-García | Project Leader
THE “REIMAGINING” PROJECT
John F. Kennedy keenly observed in A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS that “every American who ever lived, with the exception of one group, was either an immigrant himself or a descendant of immigrants.”
Regardless of this reality, forces behind the current political climate blame immigrants for all manner of social problems in the U.S.--from stealing American jobs and depleting limited resources to ravaging women. "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Donald J. Trump charged. Unaccountably, the highest office in the land has demonized asylum seekers, condoned white supremacist hate speech, imposed travel bans on Muslims, and defied court rulings by separating Latin American families with no plan to reunite children and parents.
Need. The resulting climate of fear and distrust has spawned a resurgence of overt discrimination, oppression, and crime terrorizing our offspring, demoralizing our neighbors, and threatening the stability of our social institutions. These conditions evince the need, arguably greater now than at any other time in the new millennium, to do whatever we can to establish common ground and reconfigure public perception of immigration.
In the words of Barack Obama, "Immigration keeps this country young; it keeps it dynamic. We have entrepreneurs and strivers who come here and are willing to take risks, and that's part of the reason why America historically has been successful."
Whether our families first arrived two-hundred years ago or two months ago, we would do well to celebrate our roots, embrace the diversity of our nation’s people, and value all who enter in the same spirit of transformation. REIMAGINING IMMIGRATION AND IMMIGRANTS aims to do just that--combatting negative rhetoric by creatively spotlighting the humanity of a shared quest that binds us together in the American experience we seek to honor.
The project. REIMAGINING IMMIGRATION AND IMMIGRANTS is designed as a participatory campaign, generating ongoing vehicles of expression for sharing exchanges on the immigration experience of transformation--a myriad of varying yet similar stories of survival and aspiration, disappointment and victory, from hundreds of years ago to the day after tomorrow. Propelled by innovative cross-platform, interdisciplinary arts and multimedia strategies, programs in development will range from arts exhibitions and interactive discussions to special events and happenings.
Our mission: to rebrand the immigrant experience as the American experience.
Goals. Recognizing the divide between people viewing immigration as the very foundation of this country and those fearing immigrants as threats to the status quo, REIMAGINING IMMIGRATION AND IMMIGRANTS seeks to advance the following goals:
Energize public perception of the immigrant as a national resource
Foster unity and encourage empathy among people holding disparate viewpoints
Help people on all sides of the immigration debate find common ground regardless of ethnicity, family history, political party, or citizenship status
Cultivate appreciation for immigrants’ histories and contributions over the decades
Open dialogue on the personal and social challenges inherent to immigration policy
Bolster identification by virtually all Americans with our own beginnings as immigrants or descendants of immigrants, appreciating the courage it takes to forge a new life in a new land
Project Development. The REIMAGINING campaign unfolds in three phases:
PHASE ONE: RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, beginning September 2019. Artist/designer Chris Yong-García leads the team in refining this project’s conceptual base and artistic direction as well as managing its development. Several recognized artists and entrepreneurs have expressed interest in helping to guide this project, we plan to invite the collaboration of like-minded agencies that include:
America International Graphics Association (AIGA)
The City of New York, Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs
Moving America Forward (FWD.us)
Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
The Tenement Museum
To define activities and strategies for implementation and evaluation in later phases, Phase One activities include:
Formalize Advisory Board and consult with members
Refine definition of project concept, consider and determine program elements for implementation, and establish evaluation criteria
Identify potential branding system and strategies for program distribution and promotion
Develop project web site and prospectus outlining details of plans for implementation
Research and forge associations with schools, libraries, arts institutions, civic organizations, etc.
Seek and secure support for project Implementation and Evaluation
PHASE TWO: IMPLEMENTATION, beginning 2020. Formally launching the campaign in a major event, the project team announces its planned opportunities, which may include:
Marketing campaign advancing REIMAGINING goals and [programs] [events] through social media channels, inviting volunteer students across the U.S. to participate as social media managers, coordinators, and other supportive roles
“Open Call” exhibitions of works on immigrant themes by faculty and students, for display in schools, libraries, community centers, and digital showcases
Traveling exhibitions of works by prominent graphic designers and illustrators
Illustrated talks and panel discussions involving artists, media creators, cultural thinkers, scholars, philanthropists, and community leaders, including project advisors
On-going web-hosted on-line exhibitions curated by the project team and associates. Other web elements may include trenchant quotes, interactive animated maps showing U.S. immigration waves, and links to related agencies and resources.
PHASE THREE: EVALUATION. Design, create, and apply assessment tools to measure the success of the project in changing people’s attitudes toward immigration and immigrants. Such measures may include:
Surveys of arts creators, student media managers, event attendees, and others
On-line surveys and curated response spaces through the web site and social media
Written, videotaped, and social media commentaries by gallery, library, and event attendees, before and after experiencing exhibitions
Production of a vivid documentary report on project activities, outcomes, audience responses, and assessments by all involved, with companion written report
About Eyestorm Design. Founded by Chris Yong-Garcia in 2008, the New York City-based Eyestorm Design studio develops inventive creative to advance education, social justice, and cultural causes in addition to serving the design needs of its regular clients. Chris is a bilingual graphic designer, artist and producer. After starting his career as an art director at J. Walter Thompson (JWT Perú), he joined the creative team at Indika Advertising, where he developed innovative campaigns for HBO, Miramax Films, Spike TV, IFC Films, the Weinstein Company, and other clients. In 2012, Chris created LatinLover Food & Travel Magazine, a publication uniting Latinos and non-Latinos in their appreciation of Latin culture.
Project History. REIMAGINING IMMIGRATION AND IMMIGRANTS informally launched on February 26th, 2019, at the New York City art benefit show, WORDS OF AN (INK)MIGRANT, featuring a new series of black and white paintings, in ink, by Project Leader Chris Yong-Garcia. Introducing this exhibition, Ambassador Marita Landaveri, Peru’s Consul General in New York, noted that these works reflect on Chris’s introspections from his own journey in identity as an immigrant from Peru, establishing a home outside of his native country while discovering new ways to create and connect.
This project is sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a non‐profit arts service organization enlisted to receive and manage project grant funds, provide oversight to ensure the use of such funds in accordance with grant agreements, and submit reports as required by grantors.
ART BENEFIT SHOW
On Tuesday February 26th, 2019, Chris presented his first solo show in New York. This includes a series of black and white ink paintings that he developed during his studies at the Art Student League of New York. These paintings were created after Chris went through a long period of stagnation with his art yet found his way back to the canvas. The exhibit reflects some of Chris’ introspection from his journey about identity, finding a new home outside his native country, and rediscovering new ways to create.
The art benefit was a success (all the paintings sold) and had a massive response from the community; the Peruvian General Consul in New York, Ambassador Maria Landaveri attended and delivered a speech to attendees.
Words of an (Ink)migrant
How long does it take for an immigrant to feel that the ground is finally firm under his feet? It could take 13 years. And how does an immigrant learn that the ground is firm under his feet? It may be that after 13 years he returns to artistic creation. Chris Yong-García, graphic designer and editor of Latin-Lover magazine, was born in Lima, Peru, in 1972, and painting was part of his daily life during his youth. Until in 1999 he came to New York, a city that met some of the needs, whether vague or concrete, that make one become an immigrant. And among all the things, the affections, the colors, and the smells that he left behind was painting.
The series of ink drawings on paper presented in Words of an (Ink)migrant was made during the year 2012, which marked Yong-García's 13th anniversary living in New York City—and his 40th as a citizen of this world. They represent the very personal moment in which he returned to art. Nevertheless, he did not return to painting: "Chris, you can no longer paint like you used to, because you are not the same", one of his professors accurately said to him. Instead, he turned to drawing, to ink, to scrawling signs, to scribbling words; or as Peruvian poet J. E. Eielson wrote, to pursuing the world "at the bottom of an inkwell / to the end of writing". However, it is not the end for Yong-García, but rather the beginning of establishing his identity as an immigrant.
The Peruvian and Chinese heritage of the artist—heritage from ancestors who in turn migrated to and within Peru—is also present in these graphic works. Works that now constitute the first piece of a much larger idea: Reimagining Immigration and Immigrants. The exhibition Words of an (Ink)migrant indeed marks the beginning of this ambitious artistic endeavor, which will develop over the next two years. Reimagining Immigration and Immigrants aims to bring together artists, designers, communicators, academics, and other experts from New York City to reshape the way that migrants are perceived while promoting empathy and unity. In the current environment of polarization, where the image of the immigrant is being demonized for political purposes, Chris Yong-García's project has an urgent relevance.
Project's leader aim to sustain this project through foundation grants, corporate gifts, personal contributions, and in-kind support from like-minded agencies.
The project’s sponsor, a non‐profit arts service organization, Fractured Atlas, will receive and manage all project grant funds, provide oversight to ensure the use of such funds in accordance with grant agreements, and submit to grantors such related reports as they may require.
To make a tax-deductible contribution to support the work of REIMAGINING IMMIGRATION AND IMMIGRANTS, connect here with Fractured Atlas.
For further information, contact:
Chris Yong-Garcia Project Leader | Reimagining Immigration and Immigrants | firstname.lastname@example.org | 646-851-5947 | 311 W 43rd St. 12th Floor, New York NY 10036