ImagiNations is a public art initiative with immigrant youth that utilizes socially engaged art practices to develop cosmopolitical frameworks for cross-cultural exchange.
ImagiNations is an ongoing, collaborative public art initiative that
brings to light the most pressing issues immigrant youth face when making a new
life in the global city. Produced with participating immigrant high school
youth, this project utilizes new media installation design and socially engaged
art practices to develop cosmopolitical frameworks for cross-cultural exchange.
Collaborating students act as experts and consultants on critical immigration
issues from the youth perspective, informing the project’s content and conceptual framework.
A primary component of this project is a
series of site-specific video installations that provide a shared space of
aesthetic experience and a forum for public discourse and social gatherings. My Future Is Here is an installation designed to integrate with the
physical infrastructure of a high school, utilizing classrooms and projection
technologies to transform the building into an experiential and discursive
media space that facilitates face-to-face engagement between student
collaborators and guests. Visual poetry and personal narratives of migration
highlight the central themes of the installation, which focus on identity,
representation, interpersonal ethics, and claiming one’s civic and political
presence as an immigrant and social actor. A successful pilot version was
presented to the public in June 2012 at Flushing International High School in
Queens, New York. Developments between 2013-14 will include adapting it to
travel to other high schools and public spaces, inviting expanded youth participation and public interaction.
second installation to be produced in Spring 2013 will be designed for a public
space in Queens and will utilize site-specific video installation design and
invite community participation to bring immigrant youth issues to a wider
audience. This installation will allow youth to frame the public discussion on
immigration based upon their experiences, personal investments, and visions of
what is possible for building societies of compassion and inclusion. Site selection
will be based upon a location’s social, cultural, and symbolic significance to
immigrant communities within Queens.
for video installations will be developed within after school and weekend
workshops. I will utilize methods of collaborative storytelling in which
personal migration narratives within the global city provide an exploratory
space for the making of civic and social personhood. Students will learn video
production and editing in order to produce material for their personal migration
stories and to create short videos within their
community. Other media such as photography, graphic design, and writing will also be introduced to students through project-based learning.
will additionally inform the second element of the project, which is an ad hoc public
service organization operating under the name Hospitality Services. This element will address various issues that arise in the
process of immigration and encourage proactive hospitality toward the stranger.
Through socially engaged art practices, this component will aid the newcomer in
navigating the social, cultural, and geographic landscapes of a foreign city,
while also encourage the development of a deeper interpersonal ethics for a
global society. Students will be challenged to think critically and to offer
solutions to the issues brought forth. An introduction to art as social
practice will provide pragmatic methods to activate their solutions in everyday
life. Projects may include creating information cards for the public that
encourage convivial encounters with a foreigner, and a youth-authored
"Immigrant’s Guide to New York City" that contains advice and tips on
important and useful places, as well as ways to foster a healthy quality of
In working with immigrant youth, ImagiNations will focus on social, intellectual, and spiritual capacity
building to foster personal growth, community development, and civic
participation. Immigrant youth are poised to be the leaders of our increasingly
globalized world, and art always has the potential to catalyze the imagination
toward personal transformation and openness to difference. This initiative utilizes
pedagogy, video, installation and media design, and intersubjective exchange to
mine art’s possibilities to support the personal development and leadership
capacities of immigrant youth. It is also through these practices that this
initiative will create new public spaces for deliberative democracy,
highlighting youth perspectives and welcoming polyphonous conversations about
immigration policy and the constitution of a new global ethics.