The Bay State: A Multicultural Landscape, Photographs of New Americans at Falmouth Art Center
"This exhibit of inspirational portraits, presented by photographer Mark Chester, offers a moving display of more than 400 newly naturalized U.S. citizens who hail from over 190 of the 196 countries and territories around the globe and are now residents of the Commonwealth."
The Bay State: A Multicultural Landscape, Photographs of New Americans may be viewed throughout May at the Falmouth Art Center located at 137 Gifford Street. Hours are Monday – Friday: 9am – 4pm; Saturday: 10am – 2pm; and Sunday: 1pm – 4pm. A reception will be held on Friday, May 4th, from 5pm to 7pm followed by a talk with the artist and attorney Collin Mickle, Coordinator of the Immigration Resource Center in Hyannis, at 7pm.
“Documenting the wonderful diversity of immigrants living in Massachusetts who have chosen to become American citizens has become a quest for Mark Chester, an accomplished photographer. He has sought out his subjects at countless naturalization ceremonies and found others through chance encounters. Each subject is photographed in a place of his or her choice—at work, home or other places of special meaning. Mark’s handsome black and white portraits capture these Americans looking straight at his camera. They exude pride and confidence. It makes me proud that they are part of our country. Chester’s project is a valuable and timely reminder of how important immigrants are in our American heritage,” says Falmouth resident Carolyn Partan.
In addition, Chester says that the Falmouth Art Center is especially a meaningful and sentimental venue for him. “As a former member of the board of directors under Carolyn’s leadership as a past Board President, I dedicate this exhibition to the memory of my mother who generously supported the FAC and my undertaking of this project, whose father was an immigrant born in Austria. The Falmouth Art Center seems a fitting place to honor her.”
The Mark Chester Diversity Project has developed a new educational program, “Faces of America: Teaching Tolerance to Massachusetts’ Elementary Schools.” The program will utilize Chester’s exhibit of photographs of new Americans and his companion book as well as complementary classroom activities and lesson plans. “Faces of America” is designed to help students to understand that differences in viewpoint and culture are to be cherished and appreciated rather than judged and feared. The project will provide the opportunity for students to develop their own cultural identity while appreciating the vast variety of ethnicities that make up their state.
As President John F. Kennedy said, “Everywhere, immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.”