In a Duke Street gallery lit by the sunset, a collection of paintings, drawings, and quilts hang on display. Small groups in front of the artworks, discussing the message each piece conveys: immigration.
On one wall is a painting of two men side by side in office attire and cowboy hats. Behind the men are a collection of ripped papers. Another is displaying arms reaching up a brick wall toward Lady Liberty, who appears to be staring down the reaching individuals.
Both works, "Chemistry Brothers" by Nicole Cimmiyotti of Oregon and "Grasping for Freedom" by Raúl Manzano, are among 38 pieces that reflect the melding of social politics and art at Norfolk's d’Art Center new exhibit, "Strive: A National Exhibition Highlighting American Immigration and the American Dream."
Jessica Jackson, a Norfolk State University graduate student, submitted a small collection of photos titled "Polaroids of Christian Culture." One photo showed a church with a small sign perched in front reading "In God we trust."
Moving to Isle of Wight from Florida as a high school teacher Jackson was shocked on how much of a “heavy hand” religion had in her community. While photographing, she found that the topic of immigration was not only political but religious. “There are areas where living in America means being a Christian,” she said.
Amanda Bradley, d’Art Center's graphics, communications and gallery manager, called the submitted works stunning. “The message being immigration and the overwhelming emotion immigrants feel when coming into this country.”
Juror Solomon Isekeije worked with the center to curate and set up the exhibition. Isekeije, a Nigerian immigrant, is Norfolk State University's director for the fine arts. He wants to stimulate public conversation in the debate about immigration in America, he said in a news release.
The exhibit will be on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday until Aug. 31 at 740 Duke St., in Norfolk. For more information, visit d-artcenter.org.