January 24, 2018

Community Collaboration Features Migrations

By Donald Gilpin

A community collaboration of more than 30 organizations in and around Princeton will explore the theme of migrations in a variety exhibitions, performances, lectures, and other programs from February through May.

“We shaped the theme of migrations in order to invite as many nonprofit organizations as possible to participate,” said Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward, who initiated the idea. “Immigration and its real world consequences are so much in our minds that we wanted to open a conversation that includes the migrations of animals and even of ideas, and in doing so increase the resonance across ideas and organizations.”

The varied participating organizations include the Princeton University Art Museum, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, McCarter Theatre, the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP), the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society, Womanspace, the Princeton Public Library (PPL), the Arts Council of Princeton, and many more University and community institutions.

Among the events scheduled are a Princeton University Art Museum exhibition on “Migration and Material Alchemy,” January 27 through July 29, that features 12 contemporary artists who address issues such as cultural continuity, the AIDS crisis, environmental degradation, and population displacement; a February 1 author talk at PPL with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Sonia Nazario about the dangers that Latin American children face while journeying across Mexico to reunite with parents living in the United States; and a Princeton University lecture series, “Migration and Human Values,” by five prominent scholars in the humanities and social sciences discussing ethical implications of migration and immigration research from different points of view.

There will also be a HSP exhibition, “Rex Goreleigh: Migrant Worker’s Witness,” featuring the work of the African-American artist known for his Migrant Series, which brought to light the difficult conditions faced by African-American migrant
laborers on the farms of central New Jersey from the 1950s to the 1970s; and an author talk at Labyrinth Books in March with Neel Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri.

McCarter Theatre’s 15th anniversary production of Crowns explores a young woman’s discovery of self when she returns to her Southern roots; a current Hun School exhibition “Crossing Borders,” through April 30, examines the flight of refugees through Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Yannis Behrakis’s coverage of the recent migrant crisis in Greece and images taken by Hun students and faculty along the Mexico-United States border; and, from April through June, an exhibition of photographs collected by Centurion Ministries features portraits of formerly incarcerated individuals who were exonerated after serving time for crimes they did not commit.

A Watershed project to remove Colonial-era dams that have prevented the natural movement of fish is already underway. One of those dams has been dismantled to allow the natural migration of shad up the Millstone River.

Steward urged everyone to investigate the numerous offerings listed on the Migrations website at princetonmi

He emphasized “the extraordinary outpouring of interest in working together” that led to the creation of the Migrations project. “This is yet another in an ongoing phenomenon of partnerships across our community,” he said at a media event to announce the project at the PPL on Monday. “There is so much talent and so much curiosity around. This is an opportunity to learn from each other and generate a different level of learning in the wider community around us.”

HSP Executive Director Izzy Kasdin pointed out, “Migrations are part of the fabric of this place. Whether it’s the origins of Princeton as a carriage outpost for people moving between major colonial metropolises, as a refuge for persecuted scholars, or as a juncture of natural and manmade waterways, in so many ways migration and change is integral to Princeton’s heritage and identity.”