Today we are are honored to share new work from Mark Tuschman. We will be sharing more of this work in the weeks ahead. Please click on each image to read their individual stories.
Please tell us what the driving force was that inspired Immigrants are US.
Immigrant rights are a subject close to my heart. I am the grandson of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. My grandparents immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. Had they not been allowed to do so, I likely would never have been born. My Jewish grandparents wisely chose to flee to America in the wake of Anti-Semitic pogroms, because later, America closed its doors to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi Holocaust.
Did you face any resistance in doing this project?
No resistance- mostly enthusiasm but there are many people who are very very fearful and I have noticed the level of fear has increased during the past year.
What do you hope people will learn from this work?
Photography is a universal language. In my experience powerful portraits accompanied by stories of people’s lives are the best way to connect with those whose life stories are vastly different than our own.
With this in mind, I have interviewed and photographed over 110 immigrants spanning the entire spectrum: from the undocumented, to those seeking asylum, to DACA recipients, and finally, to those with full citizenship. My work focuses on communities being discriminated against by our current administration and includes people of all skills, from those doing manual labor to those highly skilled in medicine, law, and hi-tech.
This project came about from my sense of the dire need to increase understanding of and empathy towards immigrants and to move us, as a country, towards a more humane, compassionate, and integrated society.
But how? In a world where people are increasingly polarized in their views and where social media has siphoned us off into communities of like-minded people, preconceived notions and biases are on the rise and not as quick or easy to dial back.
Knowing that those who succumb to negative narratives about immigrants may have had few opportunities to engage, in proximity, with them, I wanted to bring the breadth, depth, and complexity of immigrant experiences and contributions forward through photographs and stories, giving people access in a way that they may not have otherwise had. After all, one can argue about politics or even disregard facts but one cannot argue a person’s story. The power of photography accompanied by people’s stories have the potential to highlight people’s humanity and change the widely disseminated negative narrative of immigrants.
Traveling exhibits seemed the most effective way of bringing these photos and stories to as wide and diverse an audience as possible. I plan to have exhibits in the ‘purple’ states where the next President of the U.S. will be determined. Initially, I will be targeting college campuses, hoping to encourage young people to vote. Other public venues such as libraries and community centers are potential spaces for these exhibits. The project should attract a broader, more politically diverse cross-section of people than it would have, if promoted only through social media.
My hope is that the exhibits will increase dialogue countering the damaging stereotypes of immigrants that have been propagated by certain political leaders and media, and ultimately increase voter turnout in the 2020 Presidential election.
We are at a critical juncture in our nations’s history; we will either become a more compassionate, inclusive, thriving and tolerant society, or we will deteriorate into a country where authoritarian demagogues target minorities and immigrants, breeding hatred and fear. Immigrants are US is one attempt to bring out the best in Americans and help us heal and thrive as a country.
Please click on the images to read their stories.
Thank you Mark. To learn more please visit Immigrants are US.
Please visit the Immigrants are US gallery.
To learn more about Mark Tuschman please visit his page at Mark Tuschman.