From Feb 18 through Mar 18, 2011
New World School of the Arts celebrates women with an exhibition that brings human rights to the forefront of our reality. Created by one of its graduating visual artists, Women: Inspiring Journeys explores the harsh realities of many undocumented women who enter the United States under the false pretense of caring employers and distorted promises. Through her significant black and white photographs, Zonia Zena, photography major from the NWSA College program, captures the struggles, anxiety, dreams, and achievements of ten immigrant women as they embark on their search for freedom and justice. “It’s a story of relentless strength and hope” said the artist.
“Women: Inspiring Journeys was conceived from a personal interest in the life of an immigrant in the United States, particularly in Miami” commented Zena. “As an immigrant myself, questions about my rights have occupied my thoughts. After continued study and reflection, I have realized that awareness and knowledge concerning the rights of an immigrant in this country is to a certain degree ambiguous, particularly in the low income population.”
A collaborative effort with the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), the show aims to raise awareness of wage theft and other workplace abuses that undocumented women face every day in the US. “I was struck not just by their experiences but by the strength and faith that led them to speak out against the injustices that they have experienced. As an artist working in the medium of photography, I felt this project was a way to express my concerns about their experiences and to bring awareness of these issues that continue to persist to this day” declared Zena.
“The exhibition engages the audience through photographs and videos, offering guests a glimpse of the subjects’ difficult journeys, while maintaining the dignity and respect they deserve” stated Maggy Cuesta, dean of the visual arts division at New World School of the Arts. “Some of the women will be present at the opening reception and are willing to talk about their encounters. It’s a worthy act of courage and tenacity. It is very gratifying to know that our students want to be involved with these very sensitive social issues. Zena’s goal is not only to raise awareness in our community, but to make a difference in the lives of these women.” Zonia agrees – “My desire is that through my art, the power and dignity of these women’s stories will serve as a tool to educate others.”
With compelling accounts of their struggles, the women participating in the show hope to bring the issue of immigrant workplace-abuse to the conscious of our community. Maura, one of the subjects, mentions “I was hired to live with a married couple and clean their house. After a while, they also asked me to take care of the children, to care for their ten dogs, to do gardening and washing. They gave me a place to sleep and food, but only when they decided there was food to spare. They paid me thirty dollars some weeks, fifty dollars other weeks, but most weeks nothing at all.”
Women: Inspiring Journeys opens to the public on February 18 at 6:00 p.m. at the New World Gallery, located at 25 NE 2nd Street in downtown Miami. The exhibition is free, open to the public, and will remain open through March 18, 2011.
New World Gallery
25 NE 2nd Street
Miami, FL 33132