Arts & Culture Editor
The Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center (VPAC) will hold a new art exhibit beginning Wednesday, November 13 until Wednesday, November 27 to show off Millersville’s very own individual student art work with food for thought attached to the exhibit.
Joaquin Calles Guzman is a Senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art who dreams of shedding a new positive light on his experience as an immigrant along with those of the many other immigrants around us. Born in Cuba, Guzman traveled to the United States in 2007 without knowing any English. He spent two years reading and watching everything he could in English. He then enrolled himself in an ESL course at his local community college that helped him start and get to where he is today.
Having an art exhibition on campus was far from Joaquin’s mind when beginning his project. His journey started with an idea of what it means to not fit in, being that he is Latino, homosexual, and a non-native speaker of English puts him into many negative stereotypes. Joaquin is one of the fortunate immigrants who has had an opportunity to go to school along with many other opportunities we all take for granted.
“I couldn’t help but think of those who are less fortunate than me, the people who are under the poverty line who struggle every day and are considered a problem in society… that’s what kept me going.” His work is influenced by his experience as an immigrant, and his intention to change the space around him. Attempting to communicate what he wanted to say early on in his arrival to the US was one of the most difficult parts of his journey thus far. His language barrier goes hand in hand with the artistic expression that confronts the issue in both aspects.
ALIEN will be in an exhibit centered around immigrants and their work. This project is conceived as an experience, where the viewer is invited to walk around the space and observe, listen and touch the lives of the immigrants. Each viewer will bring a new perspective, as he or she may or may not have preconceived notions about immigrants and the role they play in American society. This piece arrives in a time where immigrants are a growing demographic and face discrimination of all types along with the misunderstanding of many who believe they come to “take away jobs” from Americans and to live with a free ride from the Government.
A part of what Joaquin explained as his intentions for the exhibition was, “Part of the exhibition is about you as an American, I want people to think about who is behind these products that we take home; the people working hard and for less money than you just bought the product for. Think about the things happening around you in Pennsylvania. I’m not the TV and stating what is going on abroad, I’m stating what is happening right here, the children that could be in school with their children every day or the people we see everywhere we go. These people have inspirations and dreams too.”
The exhibition will incorporate videos that will be in Spanish with English translation and interactive hands-on parts that all lead back to Joaquin’s question, “What is it to be American? Isn’t this a nation of aliens? Isn’t this what America is about? Striving for a better future?”
Nate Rivera is a long time friend and partner helping Joaquin with this project who has helped him curate ideas, supported him from the beginning, and taught compassion. “There were times when I was out of my comfort zone, seeing some of the living situations, and he was compassionate towards everyone no matter who they were, where they came from, where they lived or did and I learned that from him. All of the compassion in this exhibit is because of him and I owe it to him 100 percent.”
“I just want people to confront their pre-conceived notions and challenge that. I’m interested in that challenge of what you think and see but this isn’t about me, it’s about these people who have it so hard.”
ALIEN will be on display in the Winter Center Art Gallery starting Wednesday, November 13 to Wednesday, November 27. The exhibit is free and open to the public so bring your open mind and thoughts to the world of the people who live so close with the troubles to pursue their dreams.